8 April 2013

Kenya: Bashir to Attend Kenyatta's Inauguration

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will fly out to Kenya on Monday to participate in the inauguration ceremony of Uhuru Kenyatta as new leader of the East African nation, a newspaper reported today.

According to Sudan Tribune, the pro-government newspaper Akbar al-Youm also said that Bashir will head from there to Chad on Tuesday to attend the Green Belt conference which was rescheduled last month.

Bashir's planned trip to Kenya comes despite an arrest warrant issued for him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes committed in the Darfur conflict which broke out in 2003.

Hypothetically Kenya, a state party to the ICC statute, has a legal obligation to arrest the Sudanese leader should he set foot in the country.

But the government of Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki allowed Bashir to attend the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution in August 2010 drawing wide domestic and international criticism.

This has prompted the Kenyan chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) to move the issue of Kenya's non-compliance to the local High Court.

A local Kenyan judge ruled on the complaint in November 2011 by ordering the government to apprehend Bashir should he visit again and issued a provisional arrest warrant for the Sudanese president.

The ruling infuriated Bashir who expelled the Kenyan envoy and gave Nairobi two weeks to reverse the decision before imposing sanctions.

The government in Nairobi convinced Khartoum that it would appeal the decision which it did a few weeks later. The appellate court refused a request by the government to suspend the warrant against Bashir and ordered that it stays in effect until the appeal is fully heard.

It is not clear when a decision might be made on the case.

Ironically the Kenyan president-elect himself is awaiting trial at the ICC for his alleged role in the post-election violence of 2007. However, unlike Bashir he has cooperated with the court throughout the process and signaled he will continue to do so even after his election.

In an op-ed published this week Steve Lamony from the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) accused Nairobi of seeking to undermine the ICC work using various legal and political tactics.

Last February the outgoing Kenyan ambassador in Sudan Robert Ngesu was quoted by the pro-government al-Rayaam newspaper as saying that Bashir is welcome to visit "at any time".

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