Bashir’s holiday plans

I wonder where Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir likes to go on holiday.

When Osama bin Laden, America’s most-wanted man, lived in Sudan in the 1990s, he is rumoured to have favoured trips to the northern deserts.

A new book written by his estranged wife – Living With Osama Bin Laden – suggests that he used such excursions as training exercises for his boys, to toughen them up for when the Jihad against the Western infidels eventually began. They were forced to sleep in trenches without covers, that kind of thing.

I don’t think that Osama ever entertained the notion of booking his family on a trip to Disney World in Florida.

Al-Bashir must face a similar dilema. After all, it’s hard being a wanted man. Of course, it would be rather hard for him to justify to his bodyguards a trip to Europe. So that’s kind of off-limits.

But one would think a quick sojourn in an African nation would not be off the cards.

After all, the African Union have all rallied together and, worried about one of their own being tried in The Hague (setting a dangerous precedent for other renegade African leaders) have refused to support the International Criminal Court’s indictment. This week (or perhaps early next week) the AU will come out with a new report, recommending that local courts – possibly with some foreign support – try Sudanese war crimes suspects instead. Somehow can’t see that working.

But this presents something of a problem for AU nations, such as Uganda, who are not only a signed-up member of the ICC but also a member of the AU. Uganda’s situation is particular interesting, since they are hosting a conference next year that will look at updating the ICC’s mandate.

ICC members are obliged, under the Rome Statute, to take reasonable steps to arrest court indictees should they fall with their jurisdiction. But, in contradiction of this, the AU is telling members to grant Bashir free passage across the continent.

It’s a tricky one.

A couple of months ago, Ugandan officials – who were subsequently reprimanded by President Yoweri Museveni – made unsettling noises about needing to arrest Al-Bashir if he set foot in the country. He had, at that point, been sent an official invitation to attend a conference there. He subsequently declined.

A couple of weeks ago, he declined a separate invitation from Uganda to attend a conference on African refugees.

This follows on from a previous invitation to visit South Africa, which Bashir also declined.

Then, this week, Bashir announced that he would not be attending the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, to be held in Nigeria.

Most other leaders, who were invited, have been able to attend these events.

Which made me wonder about my initial question: where, exactly, does Bashir go on holiday? I’m thinking probably the north desert, or maybe he pops over to Saudi Arabia or Yemen from time to time. Egypt might be another idea, though they can be a trifle unpredictable there.

Ironically, one of the places that Al-Bashir would be able to escape the court’s reach is America. Since Washington never signed up to the Rome Statute, they are under no international obligation to arrest any indictee that seeks entry to the country.

How nuts is that.


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One Response to “Bashir’s holiday plans”

  1. Sean Brooks Says:

    Are African countries that are state parties to the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court playing a shell game with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir? Since the issuance of his arrest warrant by the ICC in March 2009, Bashir has repeatedly received invitations from African leaders to attend summits and conferences that eventually result in the dispatching of non-fugitives of international justice to serve in Bashir’s stead. Were these recent invitations from countries like Uganda and Nigeria in good faith? Or have there been pre-arranged deals cut that a public invitation would be extended with the understanding that Bashir would not accept them?

    I have written more about this at:

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