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Kenya scraps plan to host IGAD summit following Bashir’s warrant

December 6, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula on Tuesday announced that his government will not host the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting that was to be dedicated for discussions on the Sudan issues.

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Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula

The decision comes against the backdrop of the arrest warrant issued by a Kenyan high court judge last month for Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir in compliance with similar warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Bashir is charged with ten counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity connected to the conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Last month, Wetangula defiantly said that despite the order an IGAD summit will be held “in Kenya or elsewhere” and that Sudan delegation will be led by Bashir.

But today the Kenyan top diplomat reversed course revealing that Kenya has written to IGAD to allow Ethiopia host the summit since President Meles Zenawi is the current IGAD chairman.

According to Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) Wetangula again warned of punitive measures Sudan stands ready to take over the warrant.

Following the judge’s ruling, Sudan expelled the Kenyan ambassador and recalled back its own from Nairobi. The decision was put on hold however, following a visit by Wetangula to Khartoum with a letter from his boss president Mwai Kibaki.

When he returned Wetangula said that Bashir wanted to evict all Kenyans in Sudan, close airspace for planes heading to Kenya and freeze bilateral trade. This was reversed he said after his meeting with the Sudanese leader.

But Sudan issued a statement shortly after the visit giving Kenya two weeks to have the decision reversed or else it will proceed with sanctions.

The Kenyan government has criticized the judge’s decision saying it jeopardizes the country’s foreign relations and its mediation role in Sudan.

Suggestions by Kenyan officials that they will not obey court order drew strong warning from the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who said that such positions amounts to overthrowing the constitution.

But Wetangula denied that the government ever made such statements.

"This is a judgment in error. I have practiced law for over two decades and as a lawyer of longstanding, at no time did I say that we shall not obey the court order. I expressed my opinion just like any other lawyer does when appealing against a court’s decision," he said.

The Kenyan attorney general has already filed a notice of appeal to the Bashir ruling, according to local media reports.

Kenya is an ICC member but said that the African Union (AU) decisions ordering its members not to cooperate with the court in apprehending Bashir overrules its obligation under the Rome Statute.

(ST)