Egypt Independent

Malawi cancels AU summit hosting over Bashir invite



Malawi

said Friday it will not host the African Union summit in July over the bloc's insistence on inviting Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, wanted on international war crimes charges.

"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 Khumbo Kachali told journalists in a brief speech broadcast on state radio.

The decision had already been communicated to the AU, he said.

Kachali said the country had received a communication from the AU commission that as a host country Malawi was required to invite all presidents including Bashir.

"The commission said if Malawi was not willing to host Bashir, the venue should be shifted to another country," he said, adding that the summit would be hosted by Ethiopia.

Sudan on Thursday said it had urged the pan-African bloc to shift the summit to its Addis Ababa headquarters after the host nation's refusal to welcome Bashir.

Sudan's president is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the country's troubled Darfur region.

Malawi's new president, Joyce Banda, said in May that she wanted Bashir to stay away from the summit scheduled in Lilongwe on 9-16 July, to avoid straining ties with key donors for her impoverished country.

Banda has embarked on a major drive to smooth ties with the international community which were soured under her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika.

Under current rules ICC members, of which Malawi is one, have a duty to arrest Bashir, who has visited several countries, including some court signatories, without any action being taken.

Malawi also faced logistical challenges in holding the summit, including a shortage of beds.

Kachali said that the "state was also not ready to host the summit as confirmed by the evaluation team from the AU."