An official of the International Criminal Court [ICC] said as a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda is obligated to arrest and hand over Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to the court, if he travels to Kampala.
President Yoweri Museveni is scheduled to be inaugurated for his fourth term of office today (Thursday.)
“What is important from my perspective,” says Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, “is that a state party fully cooperates with the court. If the president of Sudan does not attend this event today, then we have no concern of cooperation,” he said.
Uganda has officially invited President Bashir to attend Museveni’s installation.
Wenaweser said he is satisfied with Ugandan government assurances that President Bashir will not attend today’s ceremony, despite the invitation.
“It will be difficult to not formally extend an invitation to any head of state,” he said. “But as long as that invitation is accompanied by a message that that state also fulfills its obligation under the Rome Statute, that is sufficient.”
The Hague-based court has indicted Bashir for allegedly committing war crimes against the people of Darfur, a charge Khartoum denies.
Some human rights groups have accused Uganda’s administration of undermining its signatory status to the Rome Statute by inviting the Sudanese leader.
But Ugandan government spokesperson Kabakumba Masiko said Bashir was invited as leader of Sudan, in accordance with regional and diplomatic protocol.
“President Bashir was invited as our neighbor. But I think it is up to him to decide whether to come or not. In any case, he is free to delegate [somebody else],” said Masiko.
Meanwhile, about 18 heads of state and government have arrived in Kampala to take part in Museveni’s installation to his forth five-year term as president.