(Newsweek – Sudan Vision) Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir's decision to skip a summit in Saudi Arabia has "nothing to do" with the fact that he is wanted by the
International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity including genocide, a Sudanese envoy has told IBTimes UK.
Riyadh had invited Al Bashir, along with US President Donald Trump and leaders from the Muslim world, at the Arab Islamic American Summit this weekend (20/21 May).
However, Al Bashir's office said on 19 May the leader was unable to attend due to "personal reasons", news agency AFP said.
"President Omar Al Bashir has apologised to King Salman of Saudi Arabia for being unable to attend the Riyadh summit," read the statement.
Sudan is an ally of the Saudi Kingdom and is part of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
"The ICC is not relevant. According to international law, countries are expected to abide only by the treaties they sign," Khalid al-Mubarak, spokesperson for the Sudanese embassy in London, told IBTimes UK. He added the invitation by Saudi Arabia, which he described as a "neighbour and a close ally" represented "another nail in the coffin of the dying ICC".
"The ICC has already shelved or frozen its case against our president and told the Security Council so," he said. "It operates with double standards, never investigating cases where powerful countries or their close allies are involved. That's why it lost face in confrontation with the whole African Union."
The ICC has been facing increasing criticism over perceived bias against African countries. Some African leaders and analysts have claimed the ICC seems prone to prosecute African figures, while it ignores perpetrators of the same crimes in other parts of the world.
In January, then US President Barack Obama eased sanctions on Sudan, citing improvement of humanitarian access and a reduction of internal violence.
The country is now among the six Muslim-majority countries targeted by a temporary visa ban imposed by the Trump administration.
However, Mubarak said relations between the two countries were improving and praised the Saudi summit, which he said was a way to foster "Islamic and American relations".
"There are problems now that cannot be solved regionally and by superpowers alone. Coordination with us in the developing world is very important because terrorism cannot be beaten by bombs alone," he said.
"Sudan is playing a very important role because many countries are now learning from the Sudanese experience in facing those in danger of being radicalised."
Meanwhile, Sudan News Agency (SUNA), has announced in statement that Al Bashir will not participate in the meeting due to personal reasons without further details.
"The President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir has apologised to his brother the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz for attending the Islamic/American Summit held in the Saudi capital Riyadh for special reasons," SUNA said.
It further said Al Bashir has assigned the Director of his office and Minister of State at the Presidency Taha Al-Hussein, to represent him at the summit
SUNA further pointed that the President had received an invitation for the summit handed over by a special envoy.