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Will Bashir's visit hamper Zimbabwe's pleas for aid?

As Zimbabwe's Prime Minister embarks for Europe and the US to ask for more aid, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir – who is wanted for war crimes – was hosted by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

By Scott BaldaufStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / June 8, 2009

Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir (r.) delivers his speech during the Comesa summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Monday, June, 8. Zimbabwe is hosting the 13th Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa in the resort town.

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP


Johannesburg, South Africa

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's job has just gotten harder. Just as he hits the road on a three-week tour to convince rich Western nations to end their sanctions against Zimbabwe and to send more aid money, Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, is back home in Harare, reminding the world that he doesn't pay attention to their rules.

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At a regional summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) held this week in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, Mr. Mugabe has held meetings with, among others, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the first sitting president to ever face an arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Since March, Mr. Bashir has been under an international arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes committed in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. But this arrest warrant has not stopped Bashir from traveling in the Middle East and Africa, from Qatar in the Persian Gulf, to Egypt and Libya, and now to Zimbabwe.

"[Mugabe] loves thumbing his nose at the international community; he is so good at it," says John Prendergast, co-chair of the Enough Project, a Washington-based think tank that focuses on issues of genocide. "Mugabe couldn't care less about Bashir. He uses him to make a point that Western institutions are irrelevant in his Africa."

Bad timing?