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Saudi aircraft flies Al Bashir to Islamic summit in Indonesia

March 7 - 2016 JAKARTA
Officials from 57 countries are meeting for a special Islamic summit in Jakarta, focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Dita Alangkara/AP)
Officials from 57 countries are meeting for a special Islamic summit in Jakarta, focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Dita Alangkara/AP)

On Saturday evening, President Omar Al Bashir left for the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, heading a Sudanese delegation, to attend the 5th Islamic Cooperation Summit.

The summit that began on Sunday is dedicated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and brings together officials from 57 countries.

Defying an international warrant for his arrest, Al Bashir managed to fly under the radar of Indonesian human right activists and NGOs. Last year, he cancelled a trip to attend an Asia-Africa conference in the capital Jakarta after protests by rights groups who wanted him arrested.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Al Bashir in 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. In 2010, charges for genocide were added. The Sudanese president has defied the warrant since, and travelled to various countries in Africa, and to Saudi Arabia and China as well.

Government sources confirmed that Al Bashir boarded a Saudi aircraft instead of the presidential jet ‘that needs maintenance’.

Social media showed pictures of Al Bashir on his arrival in Jakarta, saying that he preferred to travel by Saudi aircraft as ‘camouflage’, for fear that countries would not allow his presidential jet overflight clearance.

In a statement today, the US Embassy in Jakarta referred to Al Bashir’s indictment, and expressed concern about his travelling to Jakarta. Indonesia, however, is not a signatory to the ICC.

Al Bashir is expected to return to Khartoum on Tuesday, for talks with his Chadian counterpart, Idris Deby. The two presidents will then leave together for the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday for the rounding-up of North Thunder, the largest military exercise yet in the region, by the Saudi-led coalition against Islamic State.


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