Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 19:05 pm (KSA) 16:05 pm (GMT)

Sudan clerics tell Bashir to drop Qatar trip

There has been speculation about Bashir's possible arrest if he leaves Sudan (File)
There has been speculation about Bashir's possible arrest if he leaves Sudan (File)

Sudan's highest religious authority has issued a fatwa or ruling that President Omar al-Bashir, targeted by an international arrest warrant, should not attend an Arab summit in Qatar.

The fatwa, issued by the Committee of Muslim Scholars, said that despite Khartoum's insistence that Bashir would go to the March 29-30 Doha summit, he should not attend because "the enemies of the nation are creeping around."

"It is inadmissible for the president of the republic to take part in the Arab League summit in Qatar under current conditions while the enemies of God and of the nation are creeping around," local media quoted the text as saying.

The International Criminal Court on March 4 issued an arrest warrant against Bashir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur and there has been speculation about his possible arrest if he leaves Sudan.

"Because you are the symbol and the guardian of the nation...we think that the conditions are not right (to attend the summit) and that this task can be carried out by persons other than yourself," the fatwa said.

Implementing ICC warrants

 It is inadmissible for the president of the republic to take part in the Arab League summit in Qatar under current conditions while the enemies of God and of the nation are creeping around 
Sudanese Committee of Muslim Scholars

The ICC does not have a police force and therefore calls on signatory states to implement warrants.

Qatar is not a member of the International Criminal Court and would have no legal obligation to arrest the president if he entered its territory.

The ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has warned in the past that any plane carrying Bashir in international airspace could be intercepted, though the court has no enforcement apparatus of its own.

Besides the possibility of his arrest in Qatar, some officials in Sudan fear that Bashir's presidential jet could be intercepted by other states once out of Sudanese airspace.

Before the authority issued its statement, Sudanese presidential spokesman Mahjoub Fadul told Reuters the government had not decided whether Bashir would attend the Qatar summit.

Fadul said security arrangements had been put in place in case Bashir did make the journey. He was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

The Arab League and the African Union have both criticized the warrant as not helping to end the six-year-old Darfur conflict and called for the United Nations to exercise its right to defer it.

The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the conflict between ethnic minority rebels and the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, which puts the figure at only 10,000. An estimated 2.7 million people more have fled their homes.

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