News / Africa

    Kenya Defends Bashir Visit as Necessary for Regional Peace

    Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir waves as he arrives at the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution at the Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi, 27 Aug 2010
    Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir waves as he arrives at the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution at the Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi, 27 Aug 2010

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Michael Onyiego

    Kenya has rejected international criticism over the inclusion of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Friday's Promulgation Day festivities.  The east African nation has defended its actions as necessary for regional stability and national security.  

    At a news conference in Nairobi, members of the Kenyan government defended the decision to invite controversial Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir to the Friday signing of the country's new constitution.  The International Criminal Court has issued two warrants for Mr. Bashir under allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

    Kenya, a signatory to the court, was blasted by the international community for failing to arrest Mr. Bashir and present him to The Hague.  

    The court's judges expressed even stronger disapproval Friday, saying Kenya has a clear obligation to enforce the warrant.  The court referred the matter to the U.N. Security Council, asking the body to take "any measure they may deem appropriate" to resolve the issue.     

    But Transport Minister Amos Kimunya explained Kenya's obligations under the Court were not the only factors that influenced the country's policy regarding Sudan.

    "National interests come first; regional interests come second in ranking," he said. "Regional interests include our membership in IGAD, COMESA - where we are members with Sudan - and African Union, where we are obligated as African Union by the decisions of the Union."

    Kimunya was referring to a 2009 decision by the African Union to ignore Mr. Bashir's arrest warrants.  The decision was made after the U.N. Security Council ignored an AU request to defer the warrant for one year in the interest of peace.

    According to Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bashir's invitation was also extended in the interest of regional stability.  Sudan is just months away from a January referendum that many expect will split the country in two.  The referendum is the final step of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended 20 years of civil war between the government in Khartoum and rebels in the south.

    In a statement, the Ministry explained President Bashir and Southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir were invited to the ceremony and frequent interaction with both parties is necessary to push for the implementation of the peace agreement as well as the referendum.

    But Mr. Bashir's presence at the Promulgation ceremony complicates Kenya's relationship with the international court.  ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed after Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election.

    More than 1,000 people were killed in early 2008 after President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga accused each other of rigging the vote.  It is believed that many prominent Kenyan businessmen and politicians played a role in funding and organizing the ethnic violence that rocked the country.

    Kenya has promised to cooperate fully with Moreno-Ocampo, but recent events have cast doubts over the country's commitment to justice.  

    Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Sunday he was surprised by the presence of Mr. Bashir and urged Kenya to clarify its position and reaffirm its commitment to cooperate with the Court.  

    Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka said Mr. Bashir's visit had no bearing on the ICC investigation in Kenya.

    "We will continue with the arrangements which we have with the International Criminal Court to make sure that any individuals who may have participated in committing crimes against humanity and other crimes during the post-election violence will be prosecuted," he said.  "We will take this to its logical conclusion.  As far as we are concerned, the two issues between what has happened in President al-Bashir coming to the country and us being a signatory to the International Criminal Court and having issues pertaining to the post-election violence are mutually exclusive."

    Moreno-Ocampo is expected to return to Kenya in October to continue his investigation into the post-election violence; the prosecutor has indicated he will bring charges against six suspects when he presents his case to The Hague at the end of the year.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora