Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir extended his defiance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant when he travelled to Kigali, Rwanda where he signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) pact.
Sudan joined forty three other African nations which signed the AfCFTA aimed at paving the way for a liberalized market for goods and services across the continent.
The AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and aims to deepen the integration process, by allowing Africans to trade and move freely across the continent.
President Bashir is under two ICC arrest warrants since 2008 for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.
The Sudanese president has however visited several African states that are members of the ICC including Uganda, Egypt and Rwanda but he was not arrested.
Rwanda is not a state party to the tribunal of war crimes but has the obligation as a member of the United Nations to cooperate with the court. However, like many other African capitals, Kigali is critical to ICC and to its focus on Africa.
In December, last year, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame held talks with Bashir in Khartoum and the two leaders agreed to jointly fight the ICC, accusing it of bias against African leaders.
Kagame, who is the African Union chairperson, stressed that the continent’s position was against the ICC, stating that the continent’s leaders were victims of its biased justice.
The ICC recently warned that it would refer Jordan to the U.N. Security Council for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Amman in March last year.
South Africa is the only country where Bashir was troubled as a local human rights group lodged an application in court challenging the country’s failure to arrest a ‘war criminal’ despite the ICC obligations.
He eventually left the country before the end of the African Union summit he was attending, disregarding a court order that would have seen him detained and handed over to the ICC.