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Arrest Mr. Bashir, ICC tells Uganda

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By Alfred Nyongesa Wandera

Posted  Monday, June 7  2010 at  19:22
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Kampala

President of the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court has insisted that Uganda must arrest Sudan President Omar el-Bashir when he visits the country during the AU summit due in Kampala in July.

In a statement released yesterday to media at the ongoing ICC Review Conference in Kampala, Mr Christian Wenaweser said since Uganda is a party to the Rome Statute, it has to fulfill its mandate as stipulated in the Statute.

"I'm looking forward to seeing a statement from the Ugandan government that is less equivocal than what we have seen over the past few days. What's important from our perspective is Uganda is a state party to the Rome Statute so it has an obligation to fully cooperate with the provisions of that statute and we would like to see a statement to that affect,” Mr Wenaweser’s statement reads in part.

It adds: "Certainly confusion has been created, I have been in contact with senior Ugandan officials and told them it was in their interest and the interest of this conference that they would make a statement that is clearer than what they have done so far, and in particular make reference to the fact that they are a state party to the ICC."

The statement comes at a time when Uganda backtracked on an earlier decision not to invite Mr Bashir to a summit in Kampala because he is wanted by the International Criminal Court. "President Bashir of Sudan was actually invited for the AU summit scheduled to take place in Kampala from the July19 to July 29," said a statement from Uganda's ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry said African heads of state have been invited, except those who were suspended from the AU for specific reasons. "The Foreign Affairs ministry statement is the current government position. The Foreign Affairs statement takes precedence over mine," presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi said.

A presidency statement on Saturday evening had said: "President Yoweri Museveni has disclosed that his Sudanese counterpart General Omar Hassan Bashir has not been invited to attend the African Union Conference" but that Sudan was free to send another representative.

Sudan on Sunday demanded an apology from Uganda and asked that the summit be moved to another venue.

Uganda has in the past dithered over the attitude to adopt towards Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

This has threatened to worsen the already fragile diplomatic relations between Kampala and Khartoum.