The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday requested that the upcoming African Union (AU) summit be moved to Ethiopia after the host Malawi threatened to arrest the country's president Al-Bashir if he attends.
The ministry summoned diplomatic representatives of the African Union (AU) member states in Khartoum and told them that Khartoum wants the upcoming 19th summit to be moved, citing Malawi's failure to commit to previous AU resolutions which instructed its member states not to cooperate with the arrest warrants issued for Al-Bashir.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in the country's western region of Darfur.
Malawi President Joyce Banda announced in early May that she had asked the AU not to invite Al-Bashir to the summit that is scheduled to be held in July, explaining that her country's previous hosting of the Sudanese leader has had implications on the economy.
The South African nation suffered a loss of $350 million in US aid money, suspended by Washington which cited deteriorating human rights conditions and the country's decision to allow Al-Bashir to attend a regional summit in the capital Lilongwe when former President Bingu wa Mutharika was in power last year.
Moreover, Banda reportedly told a British development official earlier this month that her country would comply with the ICC arrest warrant since her country is a signatory of the Rome Statue which founded the court.
The acting undersecretary of the Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs, Omer Sidiq, pointed out that their request to move the summit came as a result of Malawi's failure to commit to the duties of hosting a summit. He added that Sudan's request was legitimate and consistent with the AU's constitution.
The Sudanese diplomat said that the interest of both Africa and Malawi lies in holding the summit elsewhere since it would tackle important issues such as peace in Darfur as well as AU-mediated talks between Sudan and South Sudan.
Sidiq went on to criticize Malawi's position, saying that its demands for excluding Al-Bashir from the summit were "illegal" because he is not going there on a personal visit but to attend an AU summit. He further claimed that most AU countries oppose Malawi's decision. Sidiq also pointed out that there is no diplomatic representation between Sudan and Malawi.
But Malawi has quickly dismissed Khartoum's request and insisted that it would hold the summit as planned.
The country's information minister Moses Kumkuyu on Thursday said that Lilongwe was going ahead with hosting the summit. He pointed out that Khartoum's position was lacking basis because all Malawi did was to express grievances.
"The statutes of the African Union give freedom to member states to make their grievances known," Kumkuyu told News Time Africa Thursday. "We were only making our position known and that is not infringing on any statute of the AU."