Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, has asked the African Union (AU) to shift the venue of next monthâ€™s summit from Malawi to Ethiopia.
This follows President Joyce Bandaâ€™s last weekâ€™s statement that Malawi will arrest al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if he comes for the AU summit in Lilongwe.
Banda told visiting British Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell that Lilongwe will arrest the Sudanese president if he sets his foot on Malawi soil. Mitchell disclosed Bandaâ€™s stand in an exclusive interview with The Nation.
According to Reuters, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry has said in a statement issued on Thursday that Malawiâ€™s position violates AU rules, including an obligation to provide “the required propitious frameworks and environment for the summit.”
Sudan asked the bloc that the summitâ€”planned to run from July 9 to 16 2012â€”should instead be held in Addis Ababa, home to the AU headquarters, Reuters reported.
But regional delegate to Southern Africa for AU Dr Salif Sada Sall said in an interview from Lilongwe on Thursday he had not yet seen the Sudanese statement, but was trying to get hold of it before communicating to the AUâ€™s headquarters.
The ICC indicted al-Bashir for genocide and other crimes in Sudanâ€™s western Darfur region, but al-Bashir denies the accusation.
As an ICC member, Malawi has an obligation to arrest the Sudanese president.
Malawi earlier asked the AU to prevent al-Bashir from attending the summit and asked Sudan to send a low level delegation, but Sudan rebutted that Malawi has no right to stop al-Bashir from attending the summit. It is not clear whether the AU has communicated back to Banda on Malawiâ€™s earlier request. But Lilongwe Foreign Affairs officials are on record that Capital Hill is still waiting for the AU response.