CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted on war crime and genocide charges, will not attend an Islamic Summit in Saudi Arabia this weekend in which President Donald Trump is a guest of honor, citing private reasons, Sudanese state media reported Friday.
Al-Bashir has instead assigned his Minister of State Taha al-Hussein to represent him at the summit held in Riyadh, the SUNA news agency said. The summit will bring together more than 50 leaders from Muslim and Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia is holding the event under the slogan “Together We Prevail” in hopes of fighting extremist ideologies and cooperating with American and Islamic allies to strengthen economic relations.
Sudan’s long-serving leader, who rose to power in 1989, is on the International Criminal Court’s wanted list for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. ICC prosecutors issued two warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest, in March 2009 and July 2010.
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The Darfur region has been the site of violent conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in the capital, Khartoum accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died in the conflict and some 2.7 million have fled their homes.
Just two days ago, the U.S. embassy issued a statement voicing its opposition to al-Bashir’s plans to attend the summit.
Sudan has been under U.S. financial sanctions since the 1990s after it was designated a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
A week before leaving office, President Barack Obama eased some sanctions on Sudan citing positive actions by the government, including the reduction in offensive military activity and cooperating with the U.S. to address regional conflict and the threat of terrorism.
But later, the Trump administration singled out Sudan as one of six Muslim majority countries whose citizens were banned from immigrating to the U.S.
Sudan has close military, business and political ties with Saudi Arabia. It is also part of a Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels.