Sudanese president attends AU summit, defying arrest warrant



Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir on Sunday attended the 25th African Union (AU) Summit in Johannesburg, defying an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Al-Bashir, dressed in a blue Western suit and looking relaxed, gave the thumbs-up to photographers as he stood for a group picture with other heads of state and government before the summit was kicked off.

Earlier, the ICC urged South Africa to arrest al-Bashir when he arrived in the country for the AU summit.

The ICC has two outstanding warrants against al-Bashir for alleged anti-humanity crimes.

The Pretoria High Court on Sunday issued an order preventing al- Bashir from leaving South Africa.

Judge Hans Fabricius said al-Bashir should not leave the country until an urgent application to have him arrested has been heard.

The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) filed the application to the court earlier in the day, requesting a court order to have al-Bashir arrested.

The ICC called on South Africa to respect its obligations to the Rome Statute of the ICC, to which the country is a signatory.

The SA government has kept silent over the ICC request. Calls to several departments for comments went unanswered.

But an unidentified government source said it would be ridiculous to arrest al-Bashir who was invited by the SA and AU to attend the AU Summit.

Sudan's foreign minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, told the local media that the ICC was only targeting African leaders.

"President Bashir is a leading president and a member of the African Union, and he will continue attending summits wherever they are," he said.

The AU summit, scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. local time, was postponed for several hours, prompting complaints from the media. Enditem