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Sudan Warns Relations With Uganda Eroding

A prominent member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has warned relations between Khartoum and Kampala are set to deteriorate. His comment came after Uganda’s government said it would not invite President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to next month’s African Union (A.U.) summit.

Rabie Abdulatti Obeid condemned President Yoweri Museveni’s government saying Kampala’s pronouncement is unacceptable and undermines the integrity of the continental body.

“I think this will go against the African Union Charter and humiliate, also, this African Union organization as this organization does not belong to Uganda. This belongs to member states. And, I think that, if the African Union authorities allow such a decision to be in effect, this will diminish and remove respect from this (continental) organization,” he said.

President Museveni’s office said in a statement over the weekend that Sudanese government officials will represent the country instead of President Bashir in the A.U. conference scheduled to be held next month in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court issued an international arrest warrant in March, 2009 against President Bashir over his alleged role in the Darfur Conflict.

Judges of the court issued a warrant against President Bashir on seven counts: five for crimes against humanity - murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape; two for war crimes - intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population or individual civilians, and pillaging – charges supporters of the Sudanese leader reject.

The African Union, China and the Arab League asked the ICC to defer the arrest warrant saying it will complicate efforts at resolving the Darfur conflict, as well as undermine the peace accord between the north and south. The accords signed in 2005 effectively ended Sudan’s more than two decades of civil war.

Uganda’s government is a signatory to the Rome Statute that led to the formation of the International Criminal Court. Uganda has said it will abide by the ICC arrest warrant decision.

But, NCP official Obeid said the arrest warrant has nothing to do with the upcoming African Union conference in Uganda.

“This is not relating to the authorities of the Ugandan government. And, even the African Union has already taken a stance supporting Sudan and rejecting that warrant of arrest issued by ICC against him. Like this Africa-French summit that already convened in France, President Bashir didn’t go. But, the Vice President, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, attended that meeting,” Obeid said.

The international arrest warrant against the Sudanese leader makes President Bashir the first head of state to be charged by the ICC. But, Mr. Bashir described the warrant against him as “worthless.”

The United Nations estimates that 35,000 people have so far been killed in the Darfur conflict. But, Khartoum puts the death toll at only 10,000.