The United Nations spokesperson, Farhan Haq, has revealed a plot to arrest the Sudanese president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, during his planned visit to New York next month.
On Monday, Sudan’s deputy UN ambassador, Hassan Hamid Hassan, said that Bashir, who faces war crimes and genocide charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC), would attend a UN summit dedicated to sustainable development in New York late September.
Haq is quoted by Sudan Tribune saying Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said all UN member states have to take ICC warrants “seriously.”
If he does attend, Bashir will be the first head of state to address the general assembly while facing charges by the ICC.
The U.S. State Department spokesperson, Mark Toner, on Tuesday: “We have been very clear how we feel about the president of Sudan and that he’s wanted for crimes, and we want to see him held accountable for those crimes.”
Bashir was also scheduled to speak at the general assembly’s annual ministerial meeting in September 2013 but the U.S. made it clear then that it did not want Bashir to show up in New York.
The U.S. is not an ICC member but in 2013 said the ICC arrest warrant will be a factor in deciding his visa request-UN expects US to arrest him this time round.
Zuma defends Bashir
Meanwhile, the South African President, Jacob Zuma, has defended the decision to let Bashir evade an arrest warrant and leave the country in June, saying on Thursday the wanted leader had had immunity as a guest of the African Union.
“Bashir’s coming to South Africa, it was on the invitation of the AU (African Union),” Zuma said in his first comments on the incident since Bashir’s departure, according to a Reuters report.
“He is the guest of the AU,” Zuma told opposition politicians who demanded an explanation in parliament.
Zuma told parliament Bashir would have been detained if he had visited South Africa as an individual, rather than as a delegate to an AU summit.
Pretoria has said it will review its membership of the ICC and challenge a high court ruling that found the state erred in letting Bashir leave.