Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, told journalists in Kigali on Thursday, July 14, that Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir will receive a presidential welcome like any other head of state, when he comes to Kigali on Saturday, July 16.
President Bashir is a leader of an African country dully invited and should be part of this meeting.
“Rwanda is the host of African leaders invited by the African Union, and unequivocally, anybody who is invited by the African Union, will be here in Kigali and will be very welcome – will be under the protection of this country as should be customarily. President Bashir is a leader of an African country dully invited and should be part of this meeting,” she said.
President Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009. The ICC wants Bashir arrested and tried for crimes against humanity, two counts of warcrimes and three counts of genocide, allegedly committed in Sudan’s Darfur region.
According to the United Nations, at least 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict and more than two million have been displaced since 2003.
The ICC asked the Rwandan government to arrest Bashir once he arrives, but Mushiwabo insists Rwanda is not obliged by law to arrest Bashir. “Rwanda has not adhered or subscribed to the Rome Statute so we have no obligation,” she said.
Minister Mushikiwabo downplayed the request by the ICC to the government of Rwanda, asking the Rwandan government to arrest President Bashir, referring to it as a distraction. “We are too busy to pay attention to that kind of a thing,” she told journlaists.
Rwanda is one of 20 African countries which are not a signatory of the Rome Statute which founded the ICC. African leaders have accused the ICC of selective justice.
Many African countries believe that it has become a very politicised court and that Africa needs to take position.
Minister Mushikiwabo said Bashir and other African leaders will also discuss if they can pull out of this court. “The reason its under discussion is many African countries believe that it has become a very politicised court and that Africa needs to take position. Obviously withdraw is a sovereign matter as so is joining the court – what I know is that a number of countries are ready to withdraw,” Mushikiwabo said.
African leaders have suggested establishing their own court to try those suspected for perpetrating international crimes and crimes against humanity.
Despite the ICC arrest warrant for Bashir, he has already visited different countries, including Uganda, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan and South Africa.