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Uganda’s Museveni invites Sudanese president to his swearing-in ceremony

May 9, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir today received an invitation from his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni to attend his inauguration ceremony on May 12th where he will be sworn in for a fourth term.

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (Reuters)

The state minister for the Office of the Vice President in Uganda James Baba delivered the invitation personally to Bashir on Monday, Sudan official news agency (SUNA) reported.

The report did not say whether Bashir would attend the ceremony. The Kampala-based New Vision newspaper said that 13 presidents confirmed attendance so far including South Sudan leader Salva Kiir who is also Bashir’s VP.

Relations between Sudan and Uganda are already strained over Kampala’s support of South Sudan’s independence and harboring Darfur rebel figures recently. The ICC issue is also one of the reasons for the tension.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Bashir with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly orchestrated in the war-torn Darfur region where the United Nations estimates a humanitarian crisis has claimed 300,000 lives since a 2003 revolt by rebels demanding more wealth and power.

Uganda is a signatory to the ICC’s statute and is therefore theoretically obligated to apprehend Bashir once he sets foot on its territory. The Sudanese leader has so far managed to visit three ICC members namely Chad, Kenya and most recently to Djibouti without issues.

Sudan’s president has snubbed two conferences in Uganda including an African Union summit since the issuance of the warrant. Kampala has given subtle warnings to Bashir not to visit in the past to avoid a "diplomatic incident".

The AU issued two decisions since 2009 instructing its members not to cooperate with the ICC with regards to the arrest warrants even if they are members of the court. Some African countries including Uganda have refused to comply with the resolution.

In a related issue Amnesty International today issued a statement expressing regret over Djibouti’s refusal to arrest Bashir this weekend where he attended the inauguration ceremony of president Ismail Omar Guelleh.

"As Djibouti has been a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court since 2003, the national authorities are obliged to cooperate with the Court, including arresting persons it has charged" the London-based group said.

"It is also troubling that senior government members from both France and the United States of America reportedly attended the inauguration alongside President Al-Bashir, as the Security Council, in its referral of the situation in Sudan to the International Criminal Court in 2005, explicitly urged all states to cooperate fully with the Court,".

"Amnesty International is also calling on the International Criminal Court to make a finding of non-cooperation by Djibouti and to transmit that finding to the Security Council, as provided by article 87(7) of the Rome Statute".