Khartoum- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is challenging the International Criminal Court (ICC ) and planning to attend an AIDS conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York next month.
The Sudanese presidency has announced that it applied for U.S. visas and is awaiting a response. Presidency spokesperson Obei Ezzedine told Asharq Al-Awsat that whenever the Sudanese authorities apply for visas, Washington would not reply and usually reject claiming a short time.
‘Ray A’am’ newspaper said in its issue on Thursday that the al-Bashir has accepted the invitation of the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to attend the U.N. meeting for AIDS from June 8 till June 10. The newspaper added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent an official request to the U.S. embassy in Khartoum asking for visas for the President and his delegation.
Recently, the U.S. embassy rejected the requests of several high-ranking officials including the Minister of Interior Affairs. Sudan’s Ministry Foreign Affairs summoned the U.S. Ambassador, Benjamin Moling, complaining about delays or rejections in granting visas for officials to attend events in New York or Washington.
Usually, the U.S. would reject granting visas for Sudanese officials on the grounds of bureaucracy that takes up to thirty days. Al-Tayar newspaper reported that Ambassador Moling said that unfortunately the visas are not granted due to the delay and thus the event that the official wants to attend, ends. Moling denied the allegations that the U.S. follows a policy to prevent Sudanese officials from being granted U.S. visas.
The main case here is not the visa, rather President al-Bashir challenging the arrest warrant issued against him by the ICC and travelling to countries that has signed the Rome Statute.
Al-Bashir visited Uganda, a signatory to ICC, on May 12 to participate in the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni. Al-Bashir attended the ceremony despite previous statements made by Ugandan officials that he would be arrested and handed over to the ICC in the Hague.
In his speech, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni condemned the ICC saying that his country has lost interest in it. Museveni added: “I had supported the ICC at the beginning believing it were serious. But I have discovered it is a useless body.”
Despite not being a signatory of the ICC charter, the U.S. usually asks member countries to apprehend al-Bashir. Last week it lashed out at Museveni for hosting the Sudanese leader at his inauguration ceremony. Diplomats from the United States, the European Union and Canada walked out of the ceremony in protest.
The Sudanese President has visited several countries that are signatories of the Rome Statute such Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.
Al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa to participate in the African Summit in June 2015 still raises controversy as authorities refused to apprehend al-Bashir.
The government of President Jacob Zuma considered the visit of al-Bashir a commitment to international and African treaties.