Sudan: Bashir Will Not Lead Sudan's Delegation to the AU Summit, Says Presidency

Khartoum — The Sudanese presidency has announced that the First Vice President, Bakri Hassan Salih will lead Sudan's delegation to the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Sudan's president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has been wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

Equatorial Guinea is not a signatory to the ICC's founding Rome Statute. African countries usually come under pressure from the ICC and western countries when they receive Bashir despite AU's decision which asserts that sitting heads of state should not be tried by the ICC.

On Tuesday, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called upon the UN Security Council (UNSC) to prevent Bashir from travelling abroad and demanded his arrest.

While the ICC's Fatou Bensouda said that Darfur suspects remain at large and no meaningful steps have been taken to apprehend them and bring them to justice, she stressed that it was the responsibility of states and others to surrender indictees to the custody of the ICC.

Sudan's presidential press secretary, Emad Sid Ahmed, said on Saturday that his country will be represented in the summit by a high-level delegation including the 1st VP, foreign minister, minister of environment and minister of agriculture, but he did not mention reasons behind Bashir's non participation in the summit.

Last May, Bashir underwent a knee replacement surgery and went into a three weeks recovery period before he officially resumed his duties on June 3rd. However, he has yet to deliver the public speeches he was famous for.

There were rumors circulating in Sudan that Bashir's health took a nosedive, with some even speculating that he died. Others asserted that Bashir has undergone throat surgery and not one in his knee as was announced.

But Sudan TV showed Bashir in several meetings over the weeks with local and foreign officials.

Ahmed told the government-sponsored Sudan Media Center (SMC) website the summit will discuss several issues including peace and security situation in Africa, agriculture and food security, peace and security in Sudan and the African peacekeeping missions.

He added that the first conference of the African committee for climate change will be held on the sidelines of the summit as well as the conference on Africa's ability to respond to crisis.

The AU summit which will be held between June 25 and 27 will discuss proposed amendment to Article 46A of the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights in order to grant sitting African leaders immunity from prosecution for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity

The proposed amendment reads: "No charges shall be commenced or continued before the Court against any serving African Union Head of State or Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity, or other senior state officials based on their functions, during their tenure of office."

In an open letter on Friday Amnesty International called on African Union (AU) heads of state and government not to adopt the proposed amendment, saying the move will completely undermine the integrity of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, even before it becomes operational.

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