Malawi says it will not arrest Sudanese president Omer Al Bashir as he is sheduled to jet in today for teh Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit.
This comes against the background by a call by the New York based Human Rights Watch asking the government of the Southern African country government to implement the arrent warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 4 2009.
According to Elise Keppler, senior counsel at Human Rights Watch, they have asked Malawi, as a signatory/member of to the ICC to ‘arrest and not host Al Bashir’
Meanwhile, Minister of Information Patricia Kalitati says the Sudanese president is welcome to the Warm Heart of Africa; adding the Hague wanted man has nothing to fear. ‘Why should Malawi arrest him and yet Malawi will benefit from his coming as he is to contribute to COMESA’, said Kaliati
However some commentators have warned that if Malawi they allow Bashir to attend the conference without arresting him on behalf of the ICC, to which Malawi is a member/signatory; Malawi is going to strain further its relations with the international community. That will not even be good for a country already deserted by the donor community.
Some are of the opinin that if Malawi implements the ICC warrant of arrest; the Sudan govt may reitariete by invoking work permits for Malawians in Sudan. They further warn that Malawians working in hostile spots like Darfur may become a target of kidnapping; the same way it was for South Africans when President Jacob Zuma announced that South Africa would arrest Bashir should he step his foot onto rainbow nation’s soil.
About 3 South African peacekeepers were kidnapped late last year in the hostile Darfur region by unidentified militia.
And if indeed Malawi arrests Bashir, which is very unlikely, Bingu’s image may improve a little bit amongst the international community.
President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and other heinous crimes committed in the western Darfur region.