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Why Uganda cannot arrest President Omar Bashir

By Ofwono Opondo

Nov. 15. 17  
The European Union (EU) has been reported in the media to be grumbling that the Uganda government did not apprehend and handover Sudanese President, Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands over his indictment on 4, March 2009, and the second on 12 July 2010 relating to alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region. First, it is perhaps necessary to state that the ICC has never formally served that warrant to Uganda, but in any case, Bashir has travelled to many countries including South Africa, Kenya, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, China and Middle East and was never arrested.
Also, while Sudan isn’t a state party to the Rome Statute, President Bashir’s case was a referral by the UN Security Council in 2005, and therefore the UN could enforce its decisions including imposing no-fly zones over Sudan and countries whose air space President Bashir has used since his indictment. Besides, the UN can direct the interception and search of any vessel suspected to be carrying President Bashir, which it has so far failed to do. We, therefore reject any attempts to use Uganda as a convenient scapegoat for the world’s failure to arrest President Bashir.
Article 61 of the ICC statute state “the pre-trial chamber may, upon request of the prosecutor or on its own motion, hold a hearing on the absence of the person charged to confirm the charges, when the person has waived his or her right to be present, fled or cannot be found and all reasonable steps have been taken to secure his appearance before the court,” which too hasn’t been done to-date. The UN’s big boys US, Russia and China are not even signatories to the court to which they referred President Bashir, a case of suffering serious credibility problems.
Furthermore, on all the occasions President Bashir has been in Uganda, he was an official state guest invited by the government of Uganda, and not a traveler passing by or on tourism. It is, therefore inconceivable for the EU, ICC, and some of their surrogate civil organisations to expect that the Uganda government would defy common sense and established international diplomatic protocols, and arrest President Bashir for purposes of transferring him over to The Hague. Uganda is not run by savages or treacherous leaders who can be expected to turn on friends as Europeans have done over the centuries. It would be a very reckless adventure and since Uganda government is not known to be that adventurous, it prefers to be systematic and methodical.
The Uganda government is bound by the collective, in fact, unanimous resolution of the African Union (AU) not to cooperate with the ICC on matters relating to arresting a sitting president or Head of State because the AU treats the ICC as an institution that has digressed from its original intended purpose and is now mainly selectively used to witch-hunt African leaders deemed not compliant to imperial interests.
The EU and its Big brother, the US leaders represent a ‘civilisation’ that instigated and infused wrong and dangerous ideologies, funded and armed protagonists in Africa from pre-colonial era to-date. In Sudan’s case, established reputable records indicate that the US and EU combined have sold arms worth 52bn US dollars over the years, hence the main beneficiaries in that conflict.
The two having destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and miserably failed to restore order and functioning governments, are clearly trying to punch above their weight in demanding that Uganda and other African governments should arrest Bashir, and thereby possibly start an intractable armed conflict in the region.
It is the well considered view of the Uganda government that in addition to the AU position, the on-going constructive diplomatic engagements with President Bashir where Uganda is facilitating peaceful negotiation between the Sudan government and some of those opposed to it are yielding positive results as evidenced by settlements in the Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia. Already the DR Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Libya and Mali are all either very weak or failing states, and it wouldn’t be prudent for Uganda to instigate or broaden failures in Africa. That consideration, combined with widespread terrorism from the Red Sea down to the Horn Africa, Yemen and Djibouti, makes cautious movement against President Bashir a logical strategic imperative.
While Uganda is a signatory to the ICC, and has regard for judicial processes, we don’t believe that going headstrong is always the best, or even the only way of solving problems particularly when they are as fragile and complicated as in Sudan. Uganda shouldn’t be seen as encouraging impunity.
And if all international bodies were considered genuine, Britain wouldn’t have bolted from the EU and its Court of Human Rights, and neither would Donald Trump be repudiating NAFTA, and protocols on Climate Change. The presumed global leaders and actors must always remember that they don’t the monopoly for wisdom to save humanity from many of the problems, and should learn to patiently listen to alternative solutions especially from those immediately affected.