Home | News    Saturday 28 August 2010

Obama criticizes Kenya over Bashir’s visit, local divisions emerge in Nairobi

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August 27, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The United States president Barack Obama and the European Union (EU) today criticized the decision of the Kenyan government to receive Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and genocide he allegedly masterminded in Darfur during the seven years conflict.

Bashir returned today from Nairobi after a short visit where he attended the ceremony of signing Kenya’s new constitution and swearing in of president Mwai Kibaki and prime minister Raila Odinga. Hypothetically Kenya as a signatory to the ICC’s founding treaty has an obligation to arrest Bashir once he entered its territory.

Following Bashir’s return to Khartoum, Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti said that “Kenya had invited A-Bashir to the summit in adherence with the African Union’s decision and it had shunned all the calls it received from many quarters and activists who stand behind the ICC and whose hopes were dissipated when Kenya welcomed Al-Bashir, especially that Kenya is a signatory of the ICC membership.”

The Kenyan government kept the visit under tight wraps and foreign ministry attendees list included only the First Vice President of Sudan and the president South Sudan Salva Kiir. Sudan official news agency (SUNA) released a statement on Thursday of Bashir’s planned visit.

This is not the first time Bashir risked arrest by travelling to a member state of The Hague-based court. Last month, he visited Chad after a thaw in relations between the two countries.

Bashir arrived on Friday accompanied by his adviser Mustafa Ismail, foreign minister Ali Karti and intelligence chief Mohamed Atta. The wanted president stood in a front-row position alongside other regional leaders during the ceremony. However, he later skipped a luncheon with Kibaki and returned home.

The presence of the Sudanese president took many by surprise including members of the Kenyan coalition government.

Al-Bashir was invited by the Kenyan foreign ministry in his capacity "as the head of a friendly, neighbouring country," the spokesman for Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told CNN. He said that he was "shocked" at al-Bashir’s presence and that his attendance was "out of the blue." He also said that he had not spoken to Odinga but described the situation that developed as "impossible."

The Deputy Defence Minister David Musila said Kenya had "brought shame to itself" adding that Bashir should be "arrested immediately and handed to the ICC."

Musila was quoted by ’The Standard’ newspaper as saying that Kenya "has suffered irreparable damage internationally" adding that it was incomprehensible for Kenya which he said was emerging from impunity with a new constitution "to allow Bashir to attend our ceremony."

But the Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula dismissed the crictiscism saying that Bashir was invited as one of the country’s good neighbours.

"He [Bashir] was here today because we invited all neighbours and he is a neighbour." "There are no apologies to make about anybody we invited to this function because I am sure we are enhancing peace and security and stability of this region more than anything else," Wetangula said.

The top Kenyan diplomat also recalled the African Union (AU) decisions instructing its members not to arrest Bashir regardless of their obligations. He asserted that his country will not allow "anyone to make friends and enemies" for it, revealing that Kibaki himself extended the invitation to Bashir.

The chairman of the Parliamentarians for Global Action-Kenya Chapter (PGA) Musa Sirma echoed Musila’s position saying that "it was an ambush to us that a person of the nature of al-Bashir comes to Kenya for a function of democracy and human rights".

’The Standard’ said that other Kenyan MP’s including Abdul Bahari and David Were will seek a ministerial statement from the government on the circumstances that led to al-Bashir’s invitation and why he was not arrested.

In protest at Bashir’s presence, some European Union envoys and human rights activists boycotted Kibaki’s state luncheon.

The US Ambassador Michael Rannenberger declined to comment on the surprise visit, only stating, "Today I will only talk about the ceremony and nothing else." When Bashir entered the scene, the US envoy was reportedly was seen in animated conversation with Sudan ambassador in Nairobi Majok Guandong before walking back to his seat.

Dutch Ambassador Laetitia Van Assum said the government had hidden information of Bashir’s visit from the international community, therefore, pulling a fast one on them.

"We had been told that Salva Kiir was the one coming. But we were surprised and the atmosphere became quite strange when Bashir arrived," she said.

A source in New York told Sudan Tribune that Kenyan civil society tried their best to exert immense pressure on their government to arrest Al Bashir "but the odds were against them".

"Al Bashir’s visit to the country was well orchestrated by his hosts the Kenyan government who made sure that no one knew of his visit. Consequently, many civil society activists were caught off guard by his visit," said the source.

"They ensured that there would be no magistrates to receive an application or applications for the arrest of Al Bashir on the day that he arrived this is because Kenyan magistrates and judges were taking a new oath today" he added.

INTERNATIONAL REACTION

The U.S. president released a statement on Friday congratulating Kenya on the new constitution but directed criticism at it for allowing Bashir to attend.

"I am disappointed that Kenya hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in defiance of International Criminal Court arrest warrants for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide," Obama’s statement read.

"The Government of Kenya has committed itself to full cooperation with the ICC, and we consider it important that Kenya honour its commitments to the ICC and to international justice, along with all nations that share those responsibilities. In Kenya and beyond, justice is a critical ingredient for lasting peace".

But some Sudan advocacy groups in Washington indirectly blamed Obama for Kenya’s decision not to arrest Bashir.

“This is a clear challenge for U.S. diplomacy at a critical moment. It’s incumbent upon the Obama administration to strongly support both justice and peace in Sudan and ensure accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. It seems clear that countries in the region see U.S. support for justice as little more than rhetoric at this point” said David Sullivan of the Enough Project.

"There can be little doubt that the United States, Brazil, and major European governments knew about Bashir’s trip in advance. Had they wanted to expend significant diplomatic capital, they likely could have stopped it. But here Bashir is on to something important: he knows that governments supportive of the ICC probably won’t have the patience and focus to maintain that effort" wrote American University’s School of International Service professor David Bosco in Foreign Policy magazine.

In Brussels, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Kenya to arrest Mr. Bashir and ensure its own cooperation with the ICC over the 2008 violence.

“She urges Kenya to respect its obligations under international law to arrest and surrender those indicted by the ICC,” an Ashton spokesman said. “She calls upon Kenya to continue to cooperate with the ICC in its investigation into the 2007-2008 post-election violence.”

In a less direct statement, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “urges all states party to the Rome Statute to cooperate with the court” in line with their obligations under a Security Council resolution.

In The Hague, Netherlands, where the ICC is based, the judges said in a written order that Kenya "has a clear obligation to cooperate" in enforcing arrest warrants. The court also ordered its registrar to inform the U.N. Security Council of al-Bashir’s presence in Kenya "in order for them to take any measure they may deem appropriate."

The Hague-based ICC has no police force and relies on member states to enforce its arrest warrants.

They issued a similar order with regard to Chad as well which is also an ICC member that received the Sudanese president last month.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) called in a statement released today on the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute as well as on the United Nations Security Council to take the necessary measures to ensure the full implementation of ICC decisions, including the execution of all pending warrants of arrest.

“The failure of Kenyan authorities to arrest Al-Bashir constitutes a serious breach of Kenya’s international obligations under not only the ICC Statute and the United Nations Charter, but also under its national legislation, including its new constitution, which recognizes the direct applicability of international law,” said CICC Convenor William R. Pace. “What should have been a day of celebration of Kenya’s commitment to human rights, democracy and rule of law is now marred by welcoming an international fugitive and disregarding the plight of the thousands of victims in Darfur.”

(ST)

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  • 28 August 2010 07:58, by Dack Gatduel

    kenya now will be deemed internationally as a country that does not honour its obligations. was it neccessary to invite albashir to the promulgation of new constitution of kenya? it was a mistake and a stupid one . it create an akward situation during the ceremony for the dignataries, guests, and government officials who didnt know what to make of it , to be happy as kenya usher into a new era of a new democratic and law abiding country; or sad due to present of internationally wanted crimninal who came stealthly and spoil everybody ’s taste and mood in the party. albashir left the party without sharing in the luncheon and went back to sudan hastly after 3 or four hours bravo an irreparable damage has been done to kenya.

    now kenya has to defend itself locally, and internationally and no one is going to believe them. in case of chad, it is not surprising because chad although of a signator to Rome statute it is lawless, and undemocratic, and failed state number two, but kenya is trying to be a democratic country.

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    • 28 August 2010 16:37, by Wal P Muoranyar Biet

      Very bad image for Kenya,

      In 1998, Kenya arrested Abd Allah Ogallan, a man whose people have been scattered to four countries, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Assyria. A man who fought for the freedom of his people, now Kenya failed to arrest a man who massacred hundreds of thousand of people over the years. Shame on Kenyan Government.

      Kenyan people, you have done your best. You are appreciated for that. Now you have a constitution, make sure that you put in leadership representative of you. Not Cowards.

      Wal Muoranyar Biet

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  • 28 August 2010 07:59, by DASODIKO

    As its well known that Americans are everywhere and as well know everything. But I think with a respect to the Statement of President Obama, I think he is making fool out of himslef by such statements. Its naive to watch the even pass on your eyes and then try to play as if you did’t know that it was happening before your eyes. Its the same statement from Obama adminstartion repeated when First Bashir was in Chad for SS conference.

    I would like to tell President Obama that those weaks in frica and arround the world supported you to become a president beside your no doubt qualifications was because you are coming from ordinaary global family not as a son of well know political family. Therefore the same people expect much from them you to protect them from the tyrant power holders. Yes Americans are the one to keep you in the office, however; we out of America have also American brothers and friends whose hearts are with us in our daily toilling and suffering.

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    • 28 August 2010 09:15, by Samani

      WHO CARES WHAT OBAMA THINKS - HE IS NOT EVEN TRUSTED OR RESPECTED IN HIS OWN COUNTRY.

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      • 28 August 2010 11:29, by emmanuel adol

        i think samani you should be crazy or else something is absolutely wrong with your brain,elections can not be rigged in u.s like what your master bashir did ,if americans has no respect for him nobody would voted for him but because of the driving accumulations he has are reasons and also americans are fools as we are here sudan .

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      • 28 August 2010 13:39, by Covert

        Samani,
        You are right and so do your Bashire in Sudan.

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    • 28 August 2010 09:43, by Arochthon

      it is ridiculous for Kenyan government to claim that it wants to keep peace and harmony with its neighbors. Here, it is clear that Kenya has violated the obligation to the ICC as a signatory, how can the Kenyan foreign minister claim their peace yet the outcry from the entire population of Sudan is all about the arrest of Al-bashire? Can there be an existing peace between Kenyan citizens and Al-Bashire without Sudanese citizens?

      I hope our peace lies on us as people not with somebody like president Al-Bashire who is an international fugitive.

      However, it could be better if he enters Kenya without an invitation either from the Foriegn ministry or directly from president Kibaki who may have feared his relationship with Al-Bashire, his entry may have been just to bring disgrace to the promulgation of the new constitution of Kenya which was described as a new dawn, should he have entered Kenya on separate occasion he should have been arrested and the son of peasant would have laughed loudly under his hut.

      Arocthon

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  • 28 August 2010 11:03, by Machingela gai

    Guys,

    Why African leaders allow this person to roam the Continent? It is a joke to see this thing happening again in front of a whole world who searches for the insane Bashir to answer the crimes he has committed so far. Kenya has terribly made a great mistake by allowing Bashir to get into the country illegally. Kenya must abide by Rome Statue and new adapted constitutions for democracy impact. The country would have ordered his arrest immediately after he has acrossed the red zone. His visit to Kenya will be a definite brainwashing to government officals and especially to those who are wealths hunters over there, and they might fight for unity of Sudan instead of that enevitable seperation we are waiting for if anything changes. Because Kenya is our neighboring Eastern country and at it best, Kenya is a mediator in chief for the CPA and that should bear quality responsibility in avoiding blame. It is therefore not there best fit in to do such a thing against Sudanse and against the international community as well. It seems to me that Bashir’s magic charm is still in progress and nothing wrong at all that slow him down from executing evil services. His motive is a clear sign post: South Sudan is for Sale and Kenya is among the bidding buyers besides other few countries already involved in bidding. Take million of dollars is the talk and no seperation of South Sudan from the North, which is the agreement verbally signed. What a day in Kenya for Bashir! The celeberation of new constitutions in Kenya is nothing today compare to his well coordinated visit while under obvious arrest. Bashir, however, is clearly spreading his crimes everywhere in Africa, so that he can have a good number of criminals with him in the court when the court has tracked them down in there hideout places. This is a stunning state anyone of us had never seen. Not too long ago this man made a visit to Chad, and now it is kenya’s turn. What is he thinking and what are these countries thinking about Bashir’s visit? It is a big humilation for Kenya by letting that thing happened on their watch while being responsible for many things that need international attention on their side. It is shame for them to trade their dignity for something of no value in trust.

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  • 28 August 2010 14:25, by telfajbago

    I believe that it’s President Obama’s Administration who cut the deal that Al-Bashir should move freely so long as he is letting the issues of referendum smoothly. So Obama’s criticism is just for political consumption.

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  • 28 August 2010 17:18, by Thyinka

    Al Bashir should have just let the Kenyan enjoy their celebrations by letting Kiir attend the promulgation instead of becoming such a distraction.

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  • 28 August 2010 21:03, by Manyieldit

    Kenyan has completely betrayed the people of Sudan and particularly the people of Dafur and South Sudan. Bashir supported the Kenyan constitution specially the article allowing Muslim to practice sharia law in the mu slim dominant region in Kenya. We all knew that Sudan had be charge by Arab world to spread the Islam to the neighboring African countries in which Kenya is one of them, So visiting of bashir is not a surprise to all Kenyan but was intentionally made to protect Kenyan from more Alqaidia attacked because Sudan is one of the countries who sponsor terrorism.

    All Kenyan in South Sudan and Dafur should be ask to leave the country or go and work in Khartoum, because they are Arab collaborators.

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    • 29 August 2010 01:17, by visitor

      I agree. Kenya is paying obeisance to Islamic thuggery. South Sudan is threatened by encirclement of sharia-compliant countries, just as Bashir makes plans to ramp up sharia in Sudan. His electoral "win" has made him very arrogant and confident.

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  • 28 August 2010 22:24, by Matung Neng-neng

    Is war happenned only in Sudan and not in other African Countries.
    I think Kenya have most Sudanese Refugee, next to Ethiopia, if they care, they will support peace to let the Sudanese Refugee peacefully return to their homeland and get re-establish their lives over again.
    I hope of we all think of making African the better place to live in and not trying to destroy it. Do you care!
    Have good day!
    Matung Nengneng

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  • 29 August 2010 06:14, by Northsudanes

    I think al bashir he just snake in kenya without knowing from kenya authority but i think if their is so much pressure on kenya government on that time he could be arrest but that’s ok we will get him next time but with this experiences bashir scape from kenya will not happen somewhere else if he enter icc member country like south aferica or bosowana or uganda or even kenya again i think that’s was his last chance to be handed to icc.

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    • 30 August 2010 05:06, by Santino Nuan

      There is no need of blaming a ready made weak country such as this Kenya for hosting Al Bashir, Who never knew that Kenya among African Countries is a weak country. It is one of the victim countries by Al Bashir ’s hosted Ben Laden terrorist attack when Kenyan were burnt like casted humans in a blast caused by terrorist.

      Al Bashir will visit any weak countries in Africa as long as those countries are dependent on Sudan.

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      • 30 August 2010 06:02, by Abuk D- Nhial

        To me, Bashir could not be arrested in this time nor could he be allowed to Kenya. This has desqualified both country and obligatory rules.

        Two people might be blamed, and they are Kibaki and Obama despite the allegation of their disappointment.

        Please do not neglect the supreme authority.

        Thank you.

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