Malawi Opposition Group Calls for Arrest of Sudanese President

Posted October 14th, 2011 at 12:35 am (UTC-5)
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Malawi's main opposition party and two leading international human rights groups are pressuring Malawi's government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to the country for a regional trade summit.

President Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, is in Malawi for a meeting of the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which begins on Friday.

An official with the Malawi opposition group United Democratic Front tells VOA that Malawi should arrest the Sudanese president, saying his country would be “aiding and abetting” Mr. Bashir if it does not do so.

Mr. Bashir is wanted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan's western Darfur region. His government has been fighting rebels there since 2003.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both issued statements urging Malawi to apprehend Mr. Bashir or block his entry into the country.

Human Rights Watch senior counsel Elise Keppler told VOA that President Bashir is an international fugitive and that as a member of the ICC, “Malawi should arrest him, not host him.”

Five other African heads of state are expected to attend the two-day summit — including Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerki, Swaziland's King Mswati, Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza and Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika.