July’s African Union summit in Malawi has been cancelled, due to controversy regarding the attendance of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir is currently facing indictments for war crimes in Darfur, handed down by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The African Union had pushed for the arrest warrant to be deferred, and for Malawi to permit Bashir’s attendance, to no avail.
“Much as we have obligations to the AU, we also have obligations to other institutions,” Malawi Vice President Khumbo Kachali said. Previously, Malawi’s former leader Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in April, had sided with Bashir and the AU. His successor President Joyce Banda has been more interested in pleasing foreign donors.
Under the ICC statue, member states are called upon to arrest any indicted parties who travel to their land. On Thursday Sudan put forward a motion that the AU move its meeting to the group’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, if Malawi would not allow Bashir within its boarders.
“After considering the interests of Malawians, I want to inform Malawians that the cabinet met today and decided it was not interested to accept the conditions by the African Union, therefore Malawi is not hosting the summit,” Vice-President Kachali announced to journalists.
Malawai had previously been referred to the UN Security council when Mutharika refused to arrest Bashir during a visit in October 2011. Bashir was the first head of state to be indicted by the ICC, which has accused him of committing genocide and war crimes in Darfur. He continues to deny the charges, claiming they are politically motivated.
Chad, Kenya and Djibouti have also been referred the U.N. for refusing to apprehend Bashir.