July 14, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The Ugandan president Yoweri Musievini phoned his Sudanese counterpart Omer Hassan Al-Bashir over remarks made by one of his cabinet ministers on cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his arrest.
- Ugandan president Yoweri Musievini (L) and Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir (R)
Yesterday the Ugandan state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem told reporters that there is a possibility that his government would execute the outstanding arrest warrant for Bashir if he visits.
“An arrest warrant for Bashir has been deposited at the office of the Solicitor General,” Oryem said.
“It’s up to [Inspector General of Police] Gen. Kale Kayihura to arrest him,” he added.
Sudan official news agency (SUNA) quoted Musievini as telling Bashir, who is in Egypt, that Orem’s statements do not reflect his government’s position.
SUNA added that the Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa delivered a letter to Bashir at the coastal Egyptian resort of Sharm Al-Sheik where both men are taking part in the Non-Aligned Movement summit.
Kutesa said that the remarks attributed to Oryem was a “media error” and that his country cannot allow for the arrest of its guests.
“Only dogs are the ones that bark at its guests” SUNA quoted Kutesa as saying.
The Sudanese head of state was invited by Kampala to take part in the Smart Partnership conference held later this month.
The Ugandan based Daily Monitor newspaper said that the Sudanese embassy did not confirm Bashir’s visit.
The Ugandan official added that his country is committed to the African Union (AU) decision in Libya this month instructing its members who are have ratified the Rome Statute not to cooperate in apprehending the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir despite their legal obligations to do so.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC prosecutor filed an appeal for the inclusion of genocide charges that were dropped by the judges for lack of evidence.
The Daily Monitor interviewed the Inspector General of Ugandan Police Maj. Gen Kale Kayihura who said that he would only act if there was a “harmony” in the government position on Bashir.
“We do not have any instructions from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney General [to arrest Bashir]. I am sure what [Okello Oryem] was saying is that it is ultimately the decision of the police to arrest,” he said.
Kayihura said that Bashir’s row is “complicated” but that he expected a “sovereign” and “rational” decision to be made.
Over the last week Ugandan officials have been making contradictory statements on their commitment to adhering to the Rome Statute which they ratified and arresting Bashir as such.
The Ugandan minister Oryem has told the Daily Monitor last week that Bashir will not be arrested if he attends the summit.
However, the Ugandan foreign ministry later issued a statement reiterating its commitment to the ICC.
Today Musievini’s press secretary, Tamale Mirundi told reporters that his boss would issue an official statement to give his stand on the ICC row.
The ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo who is visiting Uganda met today with Musievini.
The statements by the Ugandan official yesterday on apprehending Bashir drew sharp rebuke from Khartoum.
The Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Ali Al-Sadiq told the independent Al-Sahafa newspaper that Uganda “must understand the dangerous consequence of the ICC involvement in Africa”.
Al-Sadiq, said that Uganda’s statements reflect “a fluctuating position” adding that Bashir has no plans to visit Kampala in the first place.
The Sudan Vision website also quoted the Sudanese diplomat as saying that the Ugandan regime should be reminded about their massacring of the Acholi people in Northern Uganda, before talking about justice.
Several Sudanese columnists pleased to Bashir not to travel to Uganda for the summit.
“Lots of Africans worship money and for money they would do anything…therefore Mr. president should not indulge in this adventure,” Kamal Hassan Bakheit editor in chief of the daily Al-Rayaam said.
Bakheit, who is also Al-Bashir’s nephew, accused Uganda of being a safe haven for foreign intelligence agents including Israeli ones saying they want to “ambush” Al-Bashir when he travels there.