Khartoum — The Sudanese defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein will head to Chad on Thursday for a two-day meeting despite an arrest warrant for him by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Hussein will participate in the fourth conference on performance evaluation of the joint Sudanese-Chadian border which will be held N'Djamena from April 25-26.
Sudan and Chad deployed Border-Control Force (BCF) along their common borders with the aim of curbing cross-border infiltration into each others' territories.
The deployment followed a normalization agreement signed between the two sides in January 2010, ending their long history of mutual hostilities and backing of each others' insurgents.
The Sudanese-Chadian force is composed of 3,000 troops split evenly between the two sides.
This will be the first visit by Hussein to an ICC state party since he was charged by the Hague-based court in March 2012 on 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Sudan's western region of Darfur.
Since then the Sudanese official has kept his travel plans secret despite flying to non-ICC countries such as Libya, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia which has no obligation to arrest him.
Hussein is the second most senior Sudanese official wanted by the court after president Omer Hassan al-Bashir who has been indicted since 2009. Khartoum refuses to recognize the court's authority and vowed not to hand any suspect over which also includes a governor and a militia leader.
Chad is the only ICC nation that has repeatedly allowed Bashir to visit in defiance of its theoretical obligations under the Rome Statute. It asserts that African Union (AU) previous decisions bars it from arresting the Sudanese leader.
But the AU resolutions Chad refers to does not cover other Sudanese suspects wanted by the court, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
"The Sudanese defense minister is wanted for heinous crimes committed in Darfur, and he belongs in The Hague, not in Chad. Moreover, Chad's reliance on AU calls for non-cooperation with the ICC to allow fugitives to visit is particularly misplaced here - those calls apply only to the Sudanese president, not any other Sudanese suspects" said HRW senior international justice counsel Elise Keppler in an emailed statement to Sudan Tribune.