December 11, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese presidential assistant Jalal Youssef Al-Digair will represent the country at the 7th Summit of the Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) Heads of State and Governments taking place in Equatorial Guinea this week.
Sudan has been an active member of the ACP holding its chairmanship and hosting its summit in 2006 in Khartoum. President Omer Hassan al-Bashir attended the 6th summit that took place in 2008 in Ghana.
There was no explanation as to Bashir’s absence from the summit which will be attended by leaders from several continents as well as the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and European Union Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) based in the Hague issued an arrest warrant for
Bashir in 2009 for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur, the country’s western region. A later warrant in 2010 added genocide to the charges.
Equatorial Guinea is not a signatory to the ICC’s founding Rome Statute, and thus has no legal obligation to apprehend the Sudanese leader should he sets foot in the country.
But Bashir’s non-participation could again heighten speculations over his health. The Sudanese leader has cut his public appearances following two surgeries over the last few months in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to treat what his brother said was benign tumor in his throat.
Some observers however suspect that Bashir’s illness could be more serious than what is officially reported.
Last month he was reportedly more than an hour late to the opening ceremony Islamic Movement (IM) convention attended by Islamist figures from all over the world. He also cancelled his attendance at the last minute at the 12th conference of the Arab ministers of minerals that took place in Khartoum in late November.
But Bashir continues to preside over cabinet meetings and still holds talks with visiting signatories.
His 2nd VP Al-Haj Adam Youssef dismissed the health concerns in an interview with Reuters last week.
“He is in his office upstairs and working, you can see him,” he said, pointing in the direction of Bashir’s office.