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Uganda invites Sudan president to AU summit despite war crimes charges

The Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] announced Monday that the government has changed its position concerning a previous decision not to invite Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to an African Union (AU) [official website] summit to be held in Kampala in July. On Saturday, President Yoweri Museveni [official profile] said that Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], had not been invited to the summit [AFP report] but was free to send a representative in his place. The Sudanese government was angered [Sudan Tribune report] by Museveni's statement and demanded an apology. The Foreign Ministry clarified the status of Bashir's summit invitation on Monday, stating that the government had invited the president and had received confirmation that the invitation had been received by the Sudanese embassy in Kampala. Museveni's statements were made during a summit currently being held in Uganda to review the progress of the ICC. Bashir was invited to the review, but chose not to attend due to speculation that he could be arrested on ICC charges of ordering mass murder, rape, and torture in Darfur.

Bashir has continuously eluded an arrest warrant issued by the ICC last year. In March, the president of the ICC said that Bashirwill eventually face justice [JURIST report] in The Hague and compared the Bashir warrant with the successful surrender of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] and former Liberian president Charles Taylor [case materials; JURIST news archive] to the international criminal tribunals. In February, the ICC Appeals Chamber ordered [JURIST report] the Trial Chamber to reconsider adding an additional charge of genocide to the Bashir warrant. ICC prosecutors appealed the decision [JURIST report] not to charge Bashir with genocide in July. The warrant, which charges Bashir with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, has been a source of tension, with Egypt, Sudan, the AU [JURIST reports], and others calling for the proceedings against Bashir to be delayed, and AU leaders agreeing [JURIST report] not to cooperate with the ruling. Bashir is accused of systematically targeting and purging the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa, three Arabic-speaking ethnic groups, under the pretext of counterinsurgency since 2003.

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