Sudan's beleaguered president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who threatened to visit the United Nations despite an arrest warrant for war crimes, has backed out at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour.
Although he was listed as a speaker Thursday, ahead of President Christopher Loeak of the Marshall Islands and immediately after Croatian President Dr Ivo Josipovic, Al-Bashir decided to skip the high-level debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) which has attracted world leaders from 193 member states.
Asked to confirm the president's absence, UN Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq told IPS that Sudan had informed UN protocol that President Al-Bashir will not attend the General Assembly sessions.
Jose Luis Diaz, head of the UN office of Amnesty International, told IPS he was not really surprised that Al-Bashir had finally "dropped the charade of coming to the United Nations".
"I hope the revulsion caused by the announcement of his intention to attend the UNGA is translated by responsible states into real efforts to apprehend him and send him to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague," he said.
Under the 1947 UN-US Headquarters Agreement Act, the United States, in its capacity as host country to the world body, is obligated to allow state representatives to attend meetings at the United Nations.
But the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), a global network of civil society organisations working to strengthen international cooperation with ICC, has urged the United Nations to review its policies.
CICC convenor William Pace pointed out that major international organisations such as the African Union (AU), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the European Union (EU) do not allow the participation of representatives of governments that are not considered legitimate - specifically those representing governments resulting from military coups.
"The United Nations should follow these principles and not allow the participation of representatives who are fugitives from international justice," he added.