Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the world's top criminal court, is "very welcome" in Rwanda for a summit of the African Union starting this weekend, the country's foreign minister said Thursday.
Sudan President, wanted by ICC, 'very welcome' at Rwanda's AU summit
She also dismissed out of hand an ICC request, sent to the Rwanda government two days ago to help it arrest Bashir, calling it "a distraction".
Rwanda has "no obligation" and "no right to arrest anybody" as it has not subscribed to the treaty founding the International Criminal Court (ICC), Louise Mushikiwabo said at a news conference.
"We are too busy to pay attention to that kind of thing," she said at the media conference held ahead of the gathering of the 54-nation group. The summit takes place on Sunday and Monday.
"Rwanda is the host of African leaders invited by the African Union," she said.
"Unequivocally, anybody who is invited by the African Union will be here in Kigali and would be very welcome, would be under the protection of this country as should be customary."
The ICC issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the Darfur conflict, where more than 300,000 people have died, according to the United Nations.
But he continues to travel, including to some nations that ratified the Rome treaty setting up the ICC.
Controversy erupted last year when South Africa failed to arrest Bashir when he attended an AU summit in Johannesburg.
African leaders in fact have become increasingly resentful of the ICC's authority, accusing the Hague-based court of targeting only countries on the African continent.
Mushikiwabo said there would be discussion at the AU summit in Kigali of whether the court's African members should withdraw.
On Tuesday the ICC said it was referring Uganda and Djibouti to the UN Security Council after the two east African countries failed to arrest wanted Bashir during visits in May.
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