Kampala is set for African union meeting: will Bashir test the ICC waters?

Since The International Criminal Court issued indictments against Sudanese president Omar al- Bashir he has been reluctant to visit over 30 countries in Africa are signitories to the Rome statute.

In July the Ugandan media was full of contradictory statements from government figures after

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. from cosmicdynamic
Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. from cosmicdynamic

Uganda invited Bashir to the 19th edition of the International Global Smart Partnership dialogue in Kampala. The minister for international affairs said Uganda would do it’s duty to arrest the Sudanese leader if he honoured the invitation and that Ugandan police was ready to effect the warrant.

After this President Museveni rushed to refute this statement and went ahead to apologise to the Bashir government. In the end Bashir stayed away from Kampala and the government thought it was off the hook.

It’s not be long, now Bashir has another chance to test the ICC waters if he goes ahead to attend AU meeting due in Kampala next week. This time President Museveni has come out to say Uganda will not arrest Bashir ahead of the meeting. But much as the African leaders are awaiting a report from a committee they instituted to investigate the crimes committed in Darfur, Museveni faces a doubled faceted issue of being good to a neighbour who has supported an armed rebellion (LRA) that has claimed thousands of Ugandan, south Sudanese and Congolese lives or risk the diplomatic row. Though the indictments have nothing to do with Bashir’s support for the LRA, many Ugandans would not want to see the man who is alleged to have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes against black tribes in Darfur to be on the red carpet in their country.

Whether Museveni can convince him in private to stay away from the Kampala meeting is yet to be seen. But in case he does Uganda will not be the first country to deny Bashir a visit. South Africa invited him for President Zuma’s inauguration but included a stern warning about the country’s obligations to ICC and he never turned up. If Museveni manages to keep away Bashir this time round, it will increase the chances that  the 28 other African countries will limit Bashir’s movement. Bashir faces the same fate in more than 90 other countries worldwide that are signatories to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Rome Statute.