Malawi President Joyce Banda will shun an African Union summit next month which was moved to Ethiopia from her country as she refused to host Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, state radio said on Sunday.
Banda said on state radio that Vice President Khumbo Kachali will now attend the July 9 to 16 summit in Addis Ababa.
Sworn in on April 7 after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika, Banda broke with the AU line last month asking the body not to invite Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, to Lilongwe for the summit.
The AU insisted that Bashir must be invited, while Banda wanted the Sudanese leader to send a representative to maintain ties with donors, who contribute up to 40% of her country’s development budget.
Under current ICC rules, signatories – which include Malawi and 32 other African states – have a duty to arrest Bashir. Bashir is the first sitting president indicted by the court and his visits spark diplomatic headaches for African nations, with some signatories vowing his arrest on their soil while others flout the court’s rules.
In 2009, the AU said it would not respect the ICC warrant and urged the United Nations to suspend the arrest order.
The body has been critical of the ICC, which it says unfairly targets Africans in its prosecutions. – AFP