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NAIROBI:Kenya plays down diplomatic spat with Sudan

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Laaska news  Nov. 29,2011

By Chrispinus Omar and David Musyoka

NAIROBI, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Kenya on Tuesday played down the diplomatic spat after a high court ruling that Nairobi should arrest Sudan’s president if he was in the East African country.

A statement from Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said the current dispute would not undermine existing cordial relations between the two friendly nations. “The Government of Kenya therefore expresses its deep concern at the very unhelpful High Court ruling and will do everything within its powers to ensure that the ruling does not undermine in any way whatsoever the very cordial and fraternal relations that exist between Kenya and Sudan,” Wetangula said.

Khartoum on Monday ordered Kenyan Ambassador Robert Mutua Ngesu out of the country after Nairobi said it would arrest President Omar Al-Bashir if he was in the country and hand him over to the International Criminal Court to face genocide and war crime charges. “Kenya does not, therefore, contemplate any retaliatory action. Indeed, it is Kenya’s belief that such rushed action, while regrettable, may have been prompted by the Sudanese government’s displeasure with the High Court ruling,” the minister said.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry had earlier said the court ruling was linked to Kenya’s domestic politics and would not affect bilateral relations.

Sudan does not recognize the authority of the world court, and the Sudanese leader has flouted the arrest warrants by repeatedly traveling abroad, though mostly to countries that are not ICC members.

A statement from Sudan’s Embassy in Kenya said on Tuesday it was disappointed by the high court ruling which sparked off the diplomatic spat with Khartoum.

The embassy said the ruling seriously damaged relations between the two countries, adding that Sudan said Kenya should abide by a ruling by African Union member countries not to cooperate with the ICC and arrest Al-Bashir if he visits other African countries. “This ruling has to do with the sovereignty of Sudan and it is very difficult for the Sudan government to accept the interference of an international NGO to hamper the relations between the two countries,” the embassy said in a statement.

The ICC in 2009 issued its first arrest warrant for Al-Bashir on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes.

A second 2010 warrant added three additional counts of genocide. Kenya is party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC.

But Wetangula said the government will carefully study the judgment delivered on Monday by the high court judge with a view to requesting the attorney general to expeditiously prefer an appeal in the matter.

“Therefore as much as we respect the ruling of the High Court, we are aware that the Court does not operate in a vacuum. It is important that the country’s national interests as well as the wider interests of the region that we live in are taken into account in matters of this nature,” the minister said.

According to Wetangula, Kenya fully understands the anxiety created by the court ruling within Sudan, as it is a direct affront on the cardinal principle of sovereign immunity, as well as the collective African Union position on this matter.

He said the Assembly of the AU Heads of State and Government in February 2009 cautioned against the indictment of President Al- Bashir and requested the UN Security Council to defer the process initiated by the ICC in accordance with the provisions of Article 16 of the Rome Statute. “Kenya as a responsible and active member of the AU fully subscribes to the position taken by the AU Assembly on this matter and shall continue to support AU efforts in resolving the matter,” he said.

The minister said it was a matter of fact that it took overwhelming courage and commitment on the part of President Al- Bashir to overcome the difficult challenges of implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which was negotiated in Kenya under the auspices of the regional IGAD bloc. “Kenya still remains Chair of the IGAD Sub-Committee on Sudan and we therefore have a legitimate and strategic interest in ensuring that both peace and justice are achieved in Sudan,” Wetangula said.

The ICC has argued that Kenya is obligated as a member state to arrest the Sudanese president. Officials at the Hague-based court have said that if Kenya fails to comply with the ICC warrant, the court may report Kenya to the U.N. Security Council.

Al-Bashir entered Kenyan territory once since he became subject to an ICC arrest warrant in August 2010 to attend the celebration of Kenya’s new constitution.


Laaska News.