afrol News, 7 June - The Sudanese Foreign Ministry demands an excuse from Uganda after the latter this weekend said Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir would not be welcome at the African Union (AU) summit in Kampala next month.
Following massive pressure, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday said Sudan was welcome to send any representative except President al-Bashir to the AU summit, as the Sudanese leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Uganda currently holds the rotating presidency of the AU and is therefore to host its July summit. This is the first time that an African President is declared unwanted by the host of an AU summit.
Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore reacted with a "strong rejection" to the Ugandan statement. Uganda was only hosting the summit, and asking President al-Bashir was "out of its absolute jurisdiction," according to the Khartoum government.
"Sudan, as a member of the African Union, will determine who will represent it at the summit," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Muawia Osman Khalid. He demanded Uganda must "withdraw its statements and apologise publicly to the people of Sudan."
"Otherwise," Mr Muawia said, "Sudan will ask the African Union to transfer the summit from Kampala to any other African capital." Uganda was succumbing to "external pressures, dictations and blackmails," the government spokesman added, and therefore "Uganda is directing a fierce blow to the African Union itself."
President Museveni's decision to exclude his ICC-indicted Sudanese counterpart came as the ICC and its signatory states are gathered in Kampala to review the Hague-based court's first years of function and to discuss how its works can be intensified.
The non-invitation of President al-Bashir also comes after South African President Jacob Zuma last week advised the Sudanese leader not to travel to South Africa along with many other African leaders during the football world cup. Mr al-Bashir would be arrested and delivered to the ICC if setting foot in South Africa, President Zuma announced.
Indeed, most African leaders declined to go to Khartoum on 27 May to celebrate President al-Bashir as he was sworn into office again. Only five African leaders - the Presidents of Ethiopia, Chad, Malawi, Mauritania, and Djibouti - participated in the ceremony.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo sees the announcements by President Museveni as a victory for the court in Africa. In Kampala, he said he had brought up the issue with President Museveni several times and that the Ugandan leader had distanced himself from Mr al-Bashir step by step.
The US-based group Human Rights Watch celebrated the decision as an important victory for the ICC. "This is a welcome statement from the President of Uganda. The trend is African state-parties standing up for accountability and ending impunity," the human rights group said.
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