African Union - Sudan

Arrest fears keeping Bashir from AU, says analyst

Reuters

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir has stayed away from this week's African Union summit. Reports indicate the snub stems from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's absence from Bashir's swearing-in after disputed elections, while presidential sources are quoted as saying Bashir does not fear being arrested in Uganda, a Rome statute signatory.

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Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur region. But last week he completed a trip to Chad without being arrested.

Wasil Ali an editor at the Sudan Tribune, says his absence from Kampala is not a question of a personal snub.

Wasil Ali, Texas

"When he went to Chad he was given that assurance that he would not be arrested," he says. "Kampala did not give him that assurance."

Bashir was similarly absent from a peace and security council for the African Union in Abuja last year. Sudan responded by diverting the aeroplane of a Nigerian senate leader just before a pre-scheduled visit and saying he did not have the right to enter Sudanese airspace.

At last year's African Union, a resolution was passed whereby members said they would not cooperate with the ICC in arresting Bashir. But Ali says Moamer Kadhafi forced African Union members to sign it.

"You've really got to discriminate between the politicians in the African Union and their justice ministers," he says.

Ministers from South Africa, Uganda and Botswana all said the resolution was forced on them when they got home. At the ICC review conference, ministers from across the continent praised the court.

Ali says that although Bashir has skipped two invitations from Uganda in the last two years, this time is likely to have more serious consequences for the countries' bilateral relations.

"They feel that it's an insult," says Ali. "The fact that he's not able to attend an African Union summit that he's used to attending, that's going to make the rift between the two nations more extended than the previous ones."

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