Sudan's Bashir in Qatar defying arrest warrant
UN chief in Arab summit despite Bashir’s presence
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir defied an international arrest warrant by travelling to Doha on Sunday for an Arab summit, expected to heal a deep rift between Arab states.
Bashir arrived in the Gulf state of Qatar after visits to Egypt, Eritrea and Libya in the weeks since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the warrant for his arrest and accused him of masterminding war crimes in Darfur.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who has also flown in to the Qatari capital, will attend the summit which opens on Monday despite the presence of Bashir, a U.N. official said.
"Sudan is a member of the United Nations while the International Criminal Court is an independent judicial body, which does not prevent the United Nations from dealing with Sudan," the official told AFP requesting anonymity.
Speculation was rife in Doha that Bashir could stay away from the summit to avoid embarrassing Qatar, although the Gulf state is not bound by the rules of the ICC which indicted the president.
Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani had reiterated on Saturday that Bashir was welcome in Doha which, like all Arab states except Jordan, is not a signatory of the Rome treaty setting up the ICC.
Qatar, which hosts a key U.S. military base, said last week it had faced unspecified pressure not to receive Bashir but it repeated an invitation for him to attend.
Bashir's presence poses a challenge for the summit of the 22-member Arab League but it is expected to voice support for him. After the demise of Saddam Hussein, international justice for the Sudanese leader would set another precedent for leaders accused by opposition and rights groups of ruling by repression.
Sudan is a member of the United Nations while the International Criminal Court is an independent judicial body