Sudan is boycotting an African Union-European Union summit in Libya starting on Monday in protest against EU pressure on President Omar Hassan al-Bashir not to attend, the presidency said in a statement.
Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur province, a move that has isolated Sudan and confined the movements of the president to visits to friendly countries in the region.
“Sudan has decided to withdraw from the African-European summit at all levels,” the presidency said in a statement sent to Reuters, adding it was because of EU pressure, Reuters reports.
“Sudan considers the EU position on the president’s participation in this summit as representative of the colonial mentality with which Europe still views Africa.”
The strongly worded statement accused the EU of undermining the independence of the African Union and of hypocrisy.
The EU backs The Hague-based ICC. Sudan rejects the jurisdiction of the court and refuses to cooperate.
The court also issued arrest warrants for Darfur rebel commanders, who surrendered for trial.
Last year, a Franco-African summit was postponed and moved from Egypt to France after the French government insisted that Bashir not be invited, a step rejected by Cairo.
Sudan is likely to be disappointed that Libya, a supposed ally, did not take a stand similar to Egypt’s and insist that Bashir attend the summit scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.
Libyan-Sudanese relations have been tense since Tripoli agreed to host Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim despite Sudan’s request that Tripoli expel him.
The United Nations estimates about 300,000 people died in a humanitarian crisis sparked by Khartoum’s brutal counter-insurgency campaign launched in Darfur in 2003 against rebels from mostly non-Arab tribes.
Washington calls the violence genocide, a term rejected by Sudan.
Libya itself was ostracised by the West for decades over accusations that it sought weapons of mass destruction and had ties to violent militant groups. Gaddafi later renounced such policies and sanctions were lifted.