President Joyce Banda has told Britain that Malawi will arrest Sudanese President Hassan Omar al-Bashir if he came for the African Union heads of states summit in Lilongwe next month.
British secretary for international development Andrew Mitchell said in an exclusive interview on Friday that Banda’s position on Bashir was logical and his country supported her.
“It’s a matter for Malawi, of course, to decide on these issues…Malawi as a State party to the International Criminal Court, therefore the President is being entirely logical and making clear that if Bashir comes to Malawi he will be arrested. She made that point absolutely clearly,” Mitchell said.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over allegations he is responsible for the deaths of up to 300,000 people in Darfur since 2003. He has denied the charges.
“We asked her about the AU summit and she mentioned her views made to the AU, we support her views on that,” Mitchell said when asked whether the two discussed al Bashir during their talks.
Last month the ad Hoc eight African Union Heads of States meeting in Benin rejected President Banda’s request that the 54 member grouping should block al-Bashir from attending the AU summit.
Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara last week said Malawi has the capacity to arrest al-Bashir but the country is using diplomatic means to convince the Sudanese government to send a low ranking delegation for the summit.
“We don’t want to be caught in this warfare between the International Criminal Court and the African Union position…They might both be legally right but we think that as a sovereign State we have got a right to decide who comes into Malawi,” Kasambara said.
“Our legal obligations are tied up in as far as political convenience allows delegates to come to Malawi, now the political convenience does not allow al-Bashir to come because it’s going to endanger our political realities,” he said.