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Sudanese president declines Uganda trip despite non-arrest assurances

August 9, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will not join a regional conference that will be held Monday in the Ugandan city of Entebbe.

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (Reuters)

The Sudanese ambassador in Kampala shot down assertions made earlier today by Ugandan officials claiming that Bashir will attend the conference despite the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants issued against him for his alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“He [Bashir] has been invited for heads of state meeting on regional issues at State House, Entebbe. We expect him to join them on Monday to discuss the crisis in South Sudan and how to end it,” James Mugume the permanent secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs told reporters.

The Ugandan official said Bashir’s visit to his country will not cause “diplomatic incident” because of “AU [African Union] has a different position [not cooperating] on ICC. We respect and abide by it. We have no obligation to arrest him,” said Mugume.

He said that Bashir will join Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to discuss the political crisis in the neighboring South Sudan.

In the past Uganda has warned Bashir to stay away or risk arrest despite AU resolutions asking member states to ignore ICC warrants even if they are members of the court.

His June visit to South Africa for an AU summit stirred up a domestic controversy after the government there refused to arrest him and ignored a High Court order barring his departure. He managed to escape hours before the court ordered his apprehension.

Bashir’s non-participation in the Kampala summit likely owes to his cool relation with Museveni as the two countries traded accusations in the past over backing insurgents.

The Sudanese leader could also face the risk of drama associated with local NGO’s seeking a court order to compel his apprehension as was the case in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

(ST)