A scheduled visit by Sudanese President Omar El Bashir to attend the Smart Partnership meeting in Uganda this month will go on despite an arrest warrant against him by the International Criminal Court [ICC]- says the government. The Smart Partnership meeting will take place at Speke Resort Munyonyo from the 26 to 28th of this month. It brings together heads of state and government to interact with business leaders.
If he makes the journey it may be by far the most telling example of opposition to the arrest warrants within African countries some of who, like Uganda, are state parties to the Rome Statute which created the court.
As signatories to the Statute they are obligated to arrest Bashir and hand him over to The Hague based tribunal. Uganda is in a special category because it is a plaintiff before the court and presented the court with its first case; that of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
However this week the African Union decided to halt corperation with the ICC over his arrest.
The Sudanese Embassy to Uganda confirmed yesterday that Uganda had invited President Bashir but did not confirm he would attend the meeting.
However reliable sources say Bashir has confirmed his attendance this week.
“Yes General Bashir is invited to the dialogue. Uganda is awaiting a decision by the African Union committee led by [Fmr] President Thabo Mbeki on the situation in Darfur. Till the committee reports Bashir is welcome. I am not in a position to say what will happen when he comes” said junior minister for international affairs Hon Henry Okello Oryem yesterday.
Speaking to the Daily Monitor yesterday Joseph Manoba of the Uganda Coalition on the ICC said if Bashir is not arrested by the Uganda authorities it would send a signal that Kampala is not corperating with the court despite being a plaintiff and signatory to the Rome Statute.
“The obligation is incumbent on the Ugandan government to effect the arrest warrant” he said.
Manoba said that a recent meeting in Ethiopia of the 30 African countries who are signatory to the Rome Statute had affirmed support for the ICC despite the view initially that the Bashir warrants might cause African governments to withdraw from the court.
Since the arrest warrants were announced Bashir has defiantly travelled to several countries including Ethiopia, Libya and Egypt. Support for Bashir has been wide with the African Union opposing the warrants while the Common Market for East and Central Africa this month urged the court to drop the warrants.
The AU decision not to support his extradition or arrest on ICC charges is one of the biggest blows to the court and signals a turning point in its career.
Submitted to the Daily Monitor