Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) has expressed its understanding for the constraint faced by Malawi, which recently gave up the hosting rights of July's AU Summit instead of inviting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
''For us, we do understand the case of Malawi and we have made necessary arrangements for the summit to come back to Addis Ababa,'' Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, said in an interview with the Commission's Directorate of Information and Communication, details of which were made available to PANA Friday.
Mr. Mwencha acknowledged that Malawi had ''a particular challenge'' with regards to the participation of President al-Bashir, especially after the country (Malawi) indicated that President al-Bashir's previous participation in a COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) summit in Lilongwe caused the ICC to take issue with the host country.
But he said the AU would not subscribe to any host country preventing Sudan from attending its summit.
''For us in the African Union, as concerning Sudan, Sudan has not been suspended, Sudan is a full-fledged member of the AU. Sudan is entitled to attend the summit,'' he said.
The AU Commission Deputy Chairperson recalled the AU's disagreement with the ICC over the timing and manner of the indictment it slammed on President al-Bashir, and the Union's decision not to cooperate with the ICC regarding the arrest of a sitting President.
He explained that the decision to move the meeting from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa, the headquarters of the AU, was in accordance with the organisation's rules of procedure regarding the hosting of meetings.
The rules provide that ''if a member state has offered to host the summit and is for any reason or the other not able to do so, the meeting automatically comes to the headquarters,'' Mr. Mwencha said.
For her part, Malawi President Joyce Banda has also said she respected the AU's decision to move the meeting.
"I want to say as Joyce Banda and President of Malawi that I respect the decision of the African Union (AU) to move the summit from Malawi to Addis Ababa and for me what is paramount...what comes first is Malawi and Malawi," she told a press conference in Blantyre on her return from Great Britain and the United States.
"As far as I am concerned, I respect President al-Bashir and I respect him as Head of State of Sudan but I, I'm President of Malawi, and my problem right now...my main agenda right now is Malawi's economic recovery."
Malawi's main Western donors, notably Great Britain and the United States, have expressly said they would not view kindly any country that hosts President al-Bashir without arresting him and handing him over to the Hague Court. The US Congress recently passed a resolution
mandating Washington to cut off aid to any such countries.
-0- PANA SEG/RT/SEG 22June2012