Addis Ababa — Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir has been invited to an Islamic-American summit that will take place in Saudi Arabia on 20-21 May. The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) strongly protested the invitation, and called on activists and US leaders to voice their concern as well.
The summit, to be attended by US President Donald Trump as well as leaders of more than 40 Islamic countries, will discuss the dangers of extremism and terrorism, and how to spread tolerance and coexistence among peoples, Sudan Vision Daily reported last week.
Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel Al Jubeir said this summit will send a message to the world that the USA and Islamic countries can form a partnership.
"We believe that it will strengthen cooperation between the United States and Arab and Islamic countries in the fight against terrorism and extremism, and the visit will have enormous benefits for the region and the world," he said according to the Saudi Press Agency.
In a strongly worded statement on Saturday, Yasir Arman, Secretary-General of the SPLM-N, voiced his disappointment about the invitation extended to the Sudanese president.
He called on activists and US leaders to speak out against the participation of Al Bashir in the summit, and to demand that he be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Arman states that the invitation "created a wider concern among the victims of genocide and war crimes in Sudan and outside Sudan, among those who have been struggling for decades against the brutal regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan".
Arman accuses the ruling NCP of using political Islam "to infringe on the rights of millions of Sudanese, executing many of them, and arbitrarily arresting thousands of them, bombarding civilian populations, denying humanitarian access, and discriminating -based on religion- its own people, and in particular the Christian Sudanese".
The rebel leader states that the Sudan government "is still continuing terrorism among its own people and the outside world, using their many secret links with the terrorist networks on one hand, and cooperating with the USA on the other hand. They are part of the problem and they have never been part of the solution.
"We appeal to the US Administration, the US Congress, the Commission for Religious Freedom in the USA, the American media, civil societies, religious leaders, and human rights activists worldwide to voice their concern, to speak out against the participation of Al Bashir in this summit, and in particular the sessions that include the President of the United States, and to demand instead that Al Bashir be handed over to the ICC," the statement concludes.
On 4 March 2009, the then ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, issued an arrest warrant based on ten counts on the basis of Al Bashir's individual criminal responsibility as an indirect (co) perpetrator. It also included five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes in Darfur, under the Rome Statute Article 25(3)(a). On 12 July 2010, three counts of genocide in Darfur were added.
The investigation into the crimes in Darfur by the ICC were put on hold in December 2014, however, owing to a lack of action by the UN Security Council.
After Washington added Sudan to the list of countries supporting terrorism, it imposed a package of economic sanctions on the country in 1997. Last January, former President Barack Obama ordered to ease the sanctions for six months. Next June, several US administration agencies will decide to permanently lift sanctions on Sudan or to maintain them.
Last month, Sudan participated in the US Africa Command (Africom) summit in Germany for the first time ever, with a senior military delegation. Brig. Gen. Ahmed Khalifa Shami, spokesman for the Sudan Armed Forces, said that Sudan's participation "is evidence on the breakthrough in the relationship with the USA and a move towards lifting Sudan's name from the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism and fully lifting the economic sanctions.