An article in Uganda’s Independent yesterday suggested that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could face arrest if he visits Kampala for the 2009 Smart Partnership Dialogue. (This happened while International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo was in town, so maybe it’s just lip service.) What I found interesting, though, is that a country that has beef with Sudan over matters totally unrelated to the charges agains Bashir–charges over his involvement in the Darfur conflict–might be in a position of arresting the Sudanese leader. As the article puts it rather innocently:
Should Bashir come to Kampala and leave a free a man, many Ugandans would wonder how the government can let him go, knowing his long time support to LRA rebels who have been accused of mass killings, abductions and rape in northern Uganda, South Sudan and lately eastern DR Congo and Central African Republic. Although Bashir’s ICC indictments are a direct result of his alleged role in the Darfur conflict, accusation of his support to the LRA played a big role in the build-up to the charges. (Read the whole article here.)
So if Uganda arrested Bashir, the article suggests, it would do so because of the LRA rebellion within Uganda, not the ICC charges against Bashir. In other words, Uganda could use the ICC arrest warrant as a pretext to settle an unrelated political dispute. (And it’s worth keeping in mind that Museveni is no angel himself.)
Just another example of how politics complicates the aims of international justice, and why many people continue to view the ICC with suspicion.