Wanted Bashir in Kampala for two-day state visit

Monday November 13 2017

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni welcomes his

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni welcomes his Sudanese counterpart Omar Bashir (left) to Kampala on November 13, 2017. PHOTO | UGANDA PRESIDENCY 

By CHARLES M. MPAGI
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Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir Monday arrived in the Ugandan capital Kampala for a two-day state visit.

His visit follows an invitation by President Yoweri Museveni.

President Bashir faces an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant, arising out of his indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity over the conflict in Darfur region.

But Uganda, a former foe turned friend of Khartoum, presents no risk to President Bashir who visited last year for the inauguration of President Museveni as he took oath for his fifth elective term.

The Sudanese leader is, undoubtedly, enjoying the lifting of a 20-year trade embargo by the US, announced on October 6. He seemed quite at home on landing at the Entebbe International Airport where he was received by President Museveni.

President Museveni’s hosting of the wanted Bashir and his attack on ICC at his (Museveni's) swearing in last year, angered the US and European Union diplomats who walked out of the VIP tent before the ceremony ended.

President Museveni has been a leading critic of ICC, which he accuses of bias against African leaders.

Both Kampala and Khartoum also find themselves bonded by the hostilities between South Sudan and Sudan, courtesy of the borders they each share with the troubled Africa’s youngest country.

Khartoum is seen as a key player in resolving the South Sudan conflict, while Kampala, a historical supporter of the Juba regime, positions itself as a key stakeholder.

But President Bashir will discuss more than South Sudan during his visit. With the US sanctions behind him, President Bashir is expected to negotiate trade deals with Kampala, especially in oil and gas, coffee exports and the re-opening of direct flights between Khartoum and Entebbe.