Omar al-Bashir gets warm reception at pan-Islamic meeting about Jerusalem
Istanbul — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes, attended an emergency summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic group in Istanbul on Wednesday.
Bashir was among leaders who responded to a call by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attend the meeting after US President Donald Trump outraged the Islamic world with his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Erdogan urged the world to recognise occupied East Jerusalem as the "capital of Palestine", while Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned there could be no peace in the Middle East until such a step was made.
Images showed Bashir warmly greeted by Erdogan and then attending the family photo and summit plenary session in traditional dress.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stand trial for war crimes. His attendance of an African Union summit in SA in 2015 drew criticism as SA was a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, obliging SA to arrest him. The South African government reacted by declaring its intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute.
Sudan’s deadly conflict in Darfur broke out in 2003 when ethnic minority groups took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, which launched a brutal counter-insurgency.
The UN says at least 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5-million displaced as a result of the conflict.
Top Sudanese officials including Bashir now claim that the conflict has ended, but there is still regular fighting between numerous ethnic and tribal groups.
Bashir is wanted by the ICC for genocide and war crimes related to the conflict, charges he denies.
Erdogan, while serving as prime minister in November 2009, defended Bashir against the charges, saying "a Muslim could not commit genocide, he is not capable of it".
However, Bashir scrapped a plan that month to attend an Organisation of Islamic Co-operation meeting in Turkey after the EU pressured Ankara over his attendance.
Turkey at the time pointed out it is not a signatory to the treaty, which set up the Hague-based ICC.
Wednesday’s meeting is the first time Bashir has visited Turkey since that controversy, and there have been no reports of such pressure concerning his current appearance.
Bashir most recently visited Russia on November 23, where he held talks with President Vladimir Putin.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Jordanian King Abdullah and Lebanese President Michel Aoun are among the heads of state attending the emergency summit in Istanbul, as well as the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait and presidents of Afghanistan and Indonesia.
A surprise guest was Venezuela’s leftist President Nicolas Maduro whose country has no significant Muslim population, but is a bitter critic of US policy.
AFP, with staff writer