In yet another act of defiance toward the international community’s call for his arrest, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir traveled to Cairo today for meetings with the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
It was the Sudanese president’s second trip abroad since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for crimes orchestrated in Darfur. On Monday, Bashir visited Eritrea, the country just east of Sudan. Neither country is a party to the ICC and is therefore not obligated to carry out its decisions.
From the short notice of Bashir’s travel plans and his apparent interest in staying close to home, it seems that Bashir is being cautious despite his bold moves. Perhaps he is testing the waters before deciding whether he’ll attend the Arab League summit in Doha next week.
Whether or not the Sudanese president is hesitating, religious leaders in Sudan issued a fatwa to make it clear they think Bashir shouldn’t tempt the “creatures lurking around” who might want to arrest him by leaving Sudan.
As the leader of Sudan, there’s other compelling reason he might want to stay home: namely, the humanitarian crisis that threatens to engulf over a million of his citizens. A join Sudanese-U.N. assessment released yesterday estimates that over a million people in Darfur will run out of food rations by May if new aid agencies are not deployed.
Bashir’s government has declared it would fill the gaps left by the aid agencies expelled in the wake of the ICC warrant. However, John Holmes, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official, reiterated his concern as he released the assessment, noting, “These are Band-Aid solutions, not long-term solutions.”