Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 16:17 UK

Sudan leader in Qatar for summit

Sudanese protesters in a rally held outside the presidential residence in Khartoum on 28 March 2009 demand that President Bashir refrain from going to Qatar
President Bashir was warned not to risk attending the Doha summit

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has arrived in Qatar for an Arab summit due to discuss an indictment against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He has already visited Egypt, Eritrea and Libya over the past week to drum up support from his neighbours.

Qatar has not signed the ICC charter, which obliges member states to arrest indictees on their territory, but clerics have urged Mr Bashir not to go.

Libya's leader earlier said the ICC was a "new form of world terrorism".

Muammar Gaddafi, who is also president of the African Union, spoke out against the ICC warrant on a visit to the organisation's headquarters in Ethiopia on Sunday.

Sudan's leader was accused by the ICC on 4 March of seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in his country's Darfur region.

'First World terrorism'

Qatar's emir greeted President Bashir with hugs and kisses in a red carpet welcome at Doha's airport on Sunday, reported AP news agency.

Libyan leader Col Gaddafi (L) greets President Bashir in Libya on 26 March 2009
President Bashir has been boosted by support in the Arab world

Qatar, which hosts a key US military base, said last week it had faced pressure not to receive Mr Bashir.

Sudan's highest religious authority last week issued a fatwa urging Mr Bashir not to risk himself by attending, citing threats from enemies.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will attend Monday's opening of the Arab summit despite the presence of Mr Bashir, AFP news agency reported.

Meanwhile Col Gaddafi told reporters the indictment was an "attempt by [the West] to recolonise their former colonies".

"It is a practice of First World terrorism," he added.

Many African states, along with Sudan's key ally China, have called for the ICC proceedings to be suspended, arguing it will hamper efforts to bring peace to Darfur.

The Sudanese leader is said to have been emboldened by the 22-member Arab League's decision not to enforce the warrant even though three of its member countries are ICC signatories.

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