Bashir experienced ‘severe panic’ in Ethiopia by the sight of chartered plane with a US flag – Sudan Tribune

May 4th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir went through thirty minutes of panic at an airport in northern Tigray region during an official visit last month, an Ethiopian news paper reported today.

‘The Reporter’ independent daily which is published in native Amharic language said that the Sudanese delegation headed by Bashir was stuck in the presidential jet at Mekele Airport waiting for the boarding ladder.

Al-Bashir had arrived to lead Sudan at the meetings of the supreme joint committee co-chaired by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The Sudanese head of state visit to Ethiopia was the latest in a series of trips abroad in a show of defiance to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for him in March in connection with war crimes committed in the Darfur region.

However all the countries he visited were non-parties to the Rome Statute which is the founding text of the ICC, which means they have no legal obligation to apprehend Al-Bashir on their territory.

The newspaper said that the delay by airport authorities in bringing the boarding ladder caused “severe panic” among the embattled president and his entourage.

Quoting eyewitnesses, the newspaper said the panic was exacerbated by the sight of chartered plane with a US flag close to Al-Bashir’s plane.

Prior to the Bashir’s trips abroad since the arrest warrant, Sudanese officials have expressed fears that a Western power would attempt an operation to arrest him through military bases in Africa.

US, France are two countries that have military presence in the region.

Airport officials told the newspaper that the incident was caused by the absence of the duty official at the time.

Sources told the paper that as a result, the Sudanese president returned to Khartoum “without visiting all the places he had intended to”.

An Ethiopian official contacted by the paper declined to comment on the issue, although he did not deny that the incident took place.

At a press conference in Addis Ababa during his visit, president Bashir dismissed the notion that the arrest warrant by ICC could restrict his travel and create negative influence in his country.

“We went to this summit to show those who said we couldn’t travel out side Sudan that we can travel outside Sudan” he said adding “nothing can intermediate us into stopping traveling”.

Sudan along with African and Arab countries have rejected the arrest warrant and vowed not to cooperate with the ICC in the execution of the warrant.

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