Africa

Sudan president on safer ground as summit shifted

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir waves as he arrives at the ceremony to mark the adoption Kenya's new constitution on 27 August 2010 in Nairobi
Image caption President Omar al-Bashir's visit to Kenya in August angered many

A weekend meeting of East African leaders has been moved at the last minute from Kenya to Ethiopia.

The decision came after the International Criminal Court urged Kenya to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir if he travelled to Kenya.

The Sudanese leader is wanted by the ICC for genocide and other crimes committed in Darfur, which he denies.

Unlike Kenya, Ethiopia is not an ICC signatory country and is not obliged to arrest Mr Bashir.

'Furious'

The Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (Igad), which has six East African member states, will now hold its summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Saturday.

A senior official in Mr Bashir's party admitted to the BBC that the ICC was "part of the reason" the summit had been moved.

The BBC's James Copnall in Nairobi says when President Bashir travelled to Kenya in August many people were furious.

In July the African Union instructed its members not to apprehend Mr Bashir.

But Kenyan and African human rights groups have urged Kenya to arrest the Sudanese head of state if he returns.

The ICC believes Kenya is legally obliged to arrest Mr Bashir, but the court does not have any power to compel the Kenyans.

The UN estimates more than 300,000 people have died in Darfur since a civil war broke out in 2003.

The Sudanese government puts the figure at 10,000.

But nobody disputes Darfur has been one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, our reporter says.

Kenya was not the first ICC signatory to choose not to arrest Mr Bashir - earlier this year he travelled to Chad, which took no action.

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites