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US embassy warns its citizens in Sudan over Al Bashir case

June 15 - 2015 WASHINGTON / KHARTOUM
Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir (file photo)
Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir (file photo)

On Sunday night, the United States Department of State and its embassy in Khartoum released press statements, expressing their concerns about President Omar Al Bashir's travel to South Africa and the diplomatic crisis in the country over an international arrest warrant.

A South African judge on Sunday ordered the government to prevent Al Bashir from leaving with outstanding charges issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which seeks his arrest. The Sudanese president is attending the 25th African Union summit until later today, to which he was invited by Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.

“While the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, which sets out the crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC, we strongly support international efforts to hold accountable those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes [in Darfur],” says the spokesperson for the US Department of State, John Kirby. He calls on the South African government to support the international community's efforts to provide justice for the victims of these crimes.

Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Khartoum released a Security message for US citizens in Sudan on Sunday. It has instructed its employees to avoid large public gatherings until further notice, owing to the uncertainty regarding Omar Al Bashir's travels to South Africa. “We have no specific information that suggests unrest is imminent, (…) we urge US citizens in Sudan to similarly avoid large public gatherings.”

Court hearing this morning

An application lodged by the human rights group Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) on Sunday is set to be heard this (Monday) morning, to decide whether Al Bashir should be arrested in South Africa. However, as one of the African Union state members, South Africa is also expected to comply with the union's resolution: to not cooperate with the ICC in executing the arrest warrant.

The governing African National Congress party (ANC) seems to be asking the South African government to ignore the law, in a Tweet on Sunday.

#ANC calls upon government to challenge the order now being brought to compel the South African government to detain President #AlBashir

— ANC Info Feed (@MyANC_) June 14, 2015

Sudanese Ministers have shown to be carefree about the diplomatic crisis, claiming that Zuma granted immunity to all delegates attending the summit, and will not let anything happen to Al Bashir. Late on Sunday night it was still unclear if Bashir had left the country. "President Bashir is still in Johannesburg but we are leaving South Africa today," Sudanese presidency spokesman Mohamed Hatem told Reuters.


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