JAKARTA – Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir at the last minute cancelled a trip to Indonesia for a summit this week, a government official said, in what would have been his first trip outside of Africa or the Middle East in nearly four years.
Bashir’s plan to attend the Asia-African leaders conference in Jakarta sparked protests among rights groups, who want the president to be arrested.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant in 2009 accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the conflict in Darfur. Indonesia is not an ICC member.
“Because he is busy monitoring the post-elections operations, the country’s leadership saw it best for President Omar al-Bashir to stay in the country,” said Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq.
Sudan’s minister of foreign affairs will instead lead the country’s delegation at the Asian-African summit.
A conference organiser confirmed Bashir will not be attending, but declined to say why. A press conference about the issue was scheduled to take place later on Tuesday in Jakarta.
Rights groups welcomed Bashir’s cancelled trip.
“These developments reinforce al-Bashir’s status as a fugitive from international justice with limited travel options,” said Elise Keppler, associate director of the International Justice Programme at Human Rights Watch.
Bashir’s last visit outside of the region was to China in June 2011, though he has continued travelling to Arab and African states since then.