- Djibouti’s incumbent leader Ismail Omar Guelleh speaks during a rally in a stadium, on April 6, 2011 (AFP)
France, Djibouti’s former colonial ruler, was represented at the inauguration by Cooperation Minister Henri de Raincourt while the United States sent its deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Karl Wycoff.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
Djibouti is a signatory of the ICC Statute and was therefore theoretically obligated to apprehend Bashir once he sets foot on its territory.
But Djibouti made it clear along with Comoros Island since the issuance of the arrest warrant against the Sudanese president that it will not execute the warrant despite being members of the court.
The African Union (AU) issued two decisions since 2009 instructing its members not to cooperate with the ICC with regards to the the arrest warrants even if they are members of the court.
Kenya and Chad are the two other countries from ICC members that have agreed to receive Bashir in the past. However, both nations later hesitated to allow him to visit at subsequent events held on its territories.
On Saturday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Djibouti’s decision to receive Bashir.
“Djibouti’s welcoming of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir is an affront to victims of the horrific crimes committed in Darfur,” said Balkees Jarrah, international justice counsel with Human Rights Watch.
“As a state party to the International Criminal Court, Djibouti is obligated to arrest al-Bashir, who is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the court. Activists across the African continent have repeatedly called on their governments to support the ICC and arrest al-Bashir or at least bar him entry to their territories.”
Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of HRW, also chided Djibouti on a twitter entry saying that they should have never invited Bashir and said that other states should boycott to respect Darfur victims.
Bashir returned to Khartoum on Sunday after participating in the ceremony, state media reported.