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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Al Bashir-Museveni Meeting…New Entente and Step towards Integration

Khartoum - Relations between Sudan and Uganda have remarkably improved especially in the areas of arranging security

and political files. Such entente is expected to be in favor of boosting economic ties between Khartoum and Kampala.  Thanks to the latest visit by President to Kampala which produced a conclusion of a set of agreements in different domains.
In their summit at Uganda's Presidential Palace, President Al Bashir and his Ugandan counterpart Musevni discussed issues related to peace, security in the region, particularly South Sudan.
"The two presidents debated topics related to mutual cooperation and agreed to hold a joint economic forum in Khartoum," Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour disclosed.
Ghandour added that Sudan and Uganda confirmed their support for peace and security in the region of Lakes and agreed to concert efforts to pacify South Sudan in accordance with South Sudan terms of reference in addition to supporting efforts by IGAD.
Museveni congratulated Sudan on the lifting of the US sanctions, reiterating his opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and support for African calls for exodus from the court labeled as solely targeting African leaders while turning a blind eye to in humane acts by superpowers.
Ghandour noted that President Al Bashir's visit to Uganda comes to confirm historical relations between the two countries and helped resolved different various differences created by rebellion and armed movements.
Observers contend that President Al Bashir's  meeting with Musevni would contribute to end many conflicts  the region's thorny problems to name – but a few – trans-border crime, human trafficking, money laundering, which are having their toll on economic and conditions in the countries of the regions.
Ahmed Ali Abdel-Hamid described current status of Sudanese-Ugandan relations as far better than before and that the Ugandan president has changed his rhetoric and approach to handling regional issues compared with his previous stances on Sudan.
He added that Kampala has now resorted to Sudan to preserve its own security and peace considering ongoing instability in many parts of the region, especially in neighboring South Sudan.
Observers see President Al Bashir's visit to Kampala this time around as having special connotations and comes to pay back Uganda for its support for Sudan at different international and regional forums and the latter's continuous efforts to achieve peace and security in the region. While other observers view the visit as surprising at time Sudan's relations with the international community are notably improving.
According to observers, the Ugandan President assured President Al Bashir of African leaders support in face of the ICC. "Africa is no longer concerned about the ICC and has chucked the court," the observers stressed, branding "the ICC as a tool for serving the interests of powerful nations."
Previously, Sudan and Uganda had exchanged accusations of harboring rebel movements, especially Uganda's Lord Resistance Army (LRA) and Sudanese rebel movements believed to be accommodated in Uganda.
Accordingly, Sudan had demanded Kampala expel Sudanese rebel movement as a conditions for resume ties, a demand Uganda partially met. Since 2015, the two leaders have been trying to patch the on-and-off relations between the two governments.
President Al Bashir's a two-day visit today Monday to Kampala is another slap and defiance to the ICC arrest warrant for him.
Top on agenda during his visit, is the South Sudan peace process and bilateral discussions with his host on a number of areas of cooperation between Sudan and Uganda.
President Omar al-Bashir last visited Uganda in May 2016 to attend the swearing in of President Museveni for the current term in office.
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.
A Major Turn
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.