November 8, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir will not take part in the summit of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Istanbul, Sudan state media reported.
Sudan official news agency (SUNA) said that Bashir “delayed” his visit to Turkey in light of the ongoing dispute with SPLM over crucial parts of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
“In the framework of the dialogue that is underway between the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) on the recent differences between the CPA partners…and the need to consult with the president on these issues in the next two days the president delayed his visit to Turkey and phoned the Turkish president Abdullah Gul and thanked him for the invitation and explained to him the developments requiring his presence in the next two days” SUNA reported.
Senior Turkish diplomats confirmed to Associated Press and Reuters the cancellation and expressed relieve over the no-show by Bashir.
The Sudanese head of state’s anticipated arrival in Turkey has generated controversy and criticisms from human rights groups and the European Union (EU) which privately urged the NATO member to consider the invitation it extended.
Turkey rebuffed the objections saying it is only a host of the OIC conference while saying that a bilateral visit by Bashir, who faces an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in Darfur atrocities, in the future “is out of question”.
Bashir was due to arrive in Turkey on Sunday afternoon according to Sudanese media. Sources in Khartoum told Sudan Tribune that the government “is trying to keep it [Bashir’s visit] quiet” in case Turkey comes under pressure to backtrack on the invitation causing a last minute cancellation and an “embarrassment”.
An advance protocol team from the Sudanese presidency is currently in Istanbul to prepare for Bashir’s arrival the source said.
Earlier today Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended Bashir saying that a Muslim is incapable of committing genocide.
“In any event a Muslim could not commit genocide, he is not capable of it,” Erdogan said.
“If there was such a thing [genocide] we could talk about it face to face with President Bashir” he added.
The Turkish Premier said he visited Darfur and saw no signs of genocide.