Arusha, June 4, 2012 (FH) – Malawi is to arrest Sudanese President Hassan Omar Al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, if he sets foot in the country next month for the African Union Summit.

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In a closed door meeting with British Secretary of State for International Affairs, Andrew Mitchell in Blantyre, Malawian President Joyce Banda reportedly assured him that her country would arrest President Al-Bashir, who is expected in Malawi in July 2012, with other African leaders for the 19th Summit of the African Union (AU).

Following the decision Mitchell told the local media that “it’s a matter of Malawi to decide but the country is a state party to the international criminal court, therefore it is logical for the president to come out clear on her position”.

According to Africa Review website, Malawi had initially sought the opinion of the AU to convince President Bashir not to attend the summit, but the continental bloc said they had no mandate to stop a sitting president of a member country from attending.

In October 2011, President Al-Bashir was among six heads of state, who attended a meeting of the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) in Malawi. He  returned home later in the weekend unhindered, leading to the withdrawal of aid and suspension of budgetary support to Malawi.

In December, ICC decided to refer Malawi to both the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, over its refusal to arrest and surrender Al-Bashir to the court for prosecution.

Al-Bashir is the first sitting president indicted by the ICC, which issued an arrest warrant against him for his role in crimes allegedly committed in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

The investigation into the situation in Darfur, Sudan, was officially opened by the ICC prosecutor on June 6, 2005, after being referred to the court by the UN Security Council through Resolution 1593 on March 31, 2005.