7 June 2010

Uganda: Indicted Bashir Invited for AU Summit in Kampala

Photo: Daily Nation
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan.

Kampala — The government moved to dismiss its own report yesterday and said indicted Sudan leader Omar El-Bashir is free to attend next month's African Union Summit in Kampala.

A press statement from State House sent to media houses at the weekend suggested that President Museveni had indicated that Mr Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, would not be welcome to attend the AU's Fifteenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Heads of State due in July.

However, Ambassador James Mugume, the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary told Daily Monitor yesterday that Mr Bashir had been invited just like every other member of the AU.

"We are under obligation to invite every head of state of the AU," said Mr Mugume. "In fact President Museveni signed invitations to all heads of government, including Sudan on March 17, 2010 and Khartoum received their invitation on April 6."

It is understood the State House press release had drawn concern from Khartoum over whether there had been a change of heart by Kampala. Mr Mugume dismissed reports that a row had ensued in light of the ongoing ICC review conference in Kampala where the subject of President Bashir's indictment has been highlighted. The contentious press release had detailed a meeting between Mr Museveni and ICC President San Hyun Song last Friday but has since been dismissed.

Mr Mugume admitted, however, that a press aide at State House had misconstrued the President's comments at the meeting with Mr Song, when he reportedly said that he doubted whether President Bashir would attend the Summit to mean that Uganda had not invited Sudan. It is still not clear whether Mr Bashir will make the trip to Kampala come July. Invited to attend last year's AU Summit on Refugees, President Bashir chose to delegate and did not come to Kampala.

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