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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora