Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Sudan summons EU envoy over Bashir's Kenya visit

Sudan summons EU envoy over Bashir's Kenya visit
Report from Reuters - Tuesday, 31 August 2010 9:26pm GMT
(KHARTOUM) - Sudan summoned the EU ambassador on Tuesday to protest against a European Union statement criticising Kenya for hosting President Omar Hassan al-Bashir last week, Sudanese state media said.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for war crimes and genocide in Sudan's western Darfur region during a counter-insurgency campaign.

The African Union has told its member states not to cooperate with the warrant. ICC judges reported Kenya, which is a member of the court, to the U.N. Security Council because Kenya did not arrest Bashir who attended the signing of the new Kenyan constitution.

Sudan's foreign ministry said a statement by the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, raising concern at Bashir's Kenya visit was "totally unacceptable".

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the EU to end its double standard of giving immunity from legal proceedings to certain nationalities while targeting African countries alone," state news agency SUNA said.

Relations between Sudan and Western nations which support the ICC have been strained since the warrant for Bashir was issued in March 2009.

Bashir's movements have been restricted to nearby Middle Eastern and African allies since the warrant was issued and he was forced to cancel a visit to Turkey last year after EU pressure on Ankara.

His visit to Kenya on Friday was his second to a full African member of the ICC and a media coup for Bashir. He travelled to Chad last month.

Rights groups censured Kenya which has its own case pending in the ICC over post-elections violence. South Africa and Botswana are among the few African nations who have defied the AU and said they would implement the ICC warrant. (Reporting by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Peter Graff)

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