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Museveni invites Bashir to AU summit

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Oct 15, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Oct 15, 2009
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    By Cyprian Musoke

    PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has invited his Sudanese counterpart Omar el-Bashir to the AU summit on refugees due next week.

    Answering questions from journalists at a press conference at State House Entebbe yesterday, Museveni said Bashir had been invited in his capacity as a sitting African president.

    Bashir is wanted at The Hague-based International Criminal Court over war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Member states are expected to arrest Bashir. African members, including Uganda, have refused to cooperate with the court, saying Bashir’s arrest would compromise peace efforts in Darfur.

    Museveni said: “Our position in the African security committee was that let us not condemn or condone Bashir.”

    “We said let us do our own investigations. That’s how former South African President Thabo Mbeki was invited to do further research to enable us take our own position,” he said.

    Museveni said Bashir was free to talk peace with the rebels in his country, at Munyonyo Resort Hotel, where presidents recently launched a symbolic peace hub during the Smart Partnership meeting.

    Museveni said the hub means that Uganda can give protection to belligerents to meet and talk.

    “The hub means a neutral zone in which we give safe conduit to the belligerents to meet and talk. We cannot turn around and say “you are wanted by the ICC” and we grab you,” he said.

    In July, the Government had advised Bashir not to attend the Smart Partnership meeting to which he had been invited over his safety.

    Museveni at the time explained that the Government had not “locked out” Bahsir, but there were some issues.

    “Some people had said in the papers that we invited Gen. Bashir so that he comes and we arrest him. That’s not according the culture of the Great Lakes region in Africa here.”

    “When I want to fight you, I insult you, I don’t invite you. I tell you beforehand. We don’t believe in surprise attacks,” he said.

    The court’s prosecutor, Moreno Ocampo, was visiting Uganda at about the same time.

    At yesterday’s press conference, Museveni said he was yet to crosscheck on whether Libyan leader and the chairman of the AU, Muammar Gadaffi, who is expected to open the talks, had confirmed attendance.