, KAMPALA, July 16 – Uganda on Wednesday warned that a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir could cause a "diplomatic incident" amid pressure on the country to arrest the leader wanted for war crimes.
"We wish to avoid a possible diplomatic incident that may arise as a result of a visit by President Beshir," East Africa and Regional Affairs Minister Isaac Musumba said in a statement to parliament.
"The government is therefore diplomatically engaging the government of the Sudan with a view to ensuring that, while the invitation to President Beshir still stands, a possible diplomatic incident is avoided."
Uganda had previously invited Beshir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, to visit at the end of this month.
Sudan’s envoy in Kampala told local media that Beshir was considering the invitation.
But the prospects of the visit, which would be Beshir’s first to a country party to the ICC since the warrant was issued in March, were complicated by ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s visit to Kampala this week.
Ocampo told reporters that Uganda has a legal obligation to arrest Beshir.
Deputy Foreign Minister Okello Oryem was on Monday non-committal about how Uganda would respond if Beshir came, saying it was up to the head of the Uganda police force to take action.
Ocampo also met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday.
Museveni was the first head of state to invite the ICC to investigate crimes committed on its soil, leading to the eventual indictments of five Lord’s Resistance Army rebel leaders.