KHARTOUM, (Reuters) – Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a brief pilgrimage, his latest trip abroad in defiance of an international arrest warrant against him, official media said.
It was Bashir’s fifth visit to a foreign state since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him on March 4, accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
The official Saudi news agency said Bashir arrived in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah to perform umrah, a short Islamic pilgrimage.
Sudanese television and state radio said Bashir flew from Doha after a summit of Arab and Latin American leaders.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal has said that issuing the arrest warrant was a politicised decision that “will not lead to the stability of Sudan or solve the Darfur issue”.
Bashir risks arrest if he leaves Sudan and he has so far visited only countries that are not members of the International Criminal Court. His trip to the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday was his longest and most risky journey abroad so far. The visit to Saudi Arabia would give him a shorter return leg, across the Red Sea.
International experts say at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.7 million driven from their homes in almost six years of ethnic and political fighting in Darfur. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.