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Kenyan Lawmaker to Demand Answers about Sudan Leader’s Visit

A Kenyan lawmaker told VOA he will demand answers from the foreign minister in parliament Tuesday about the controversial invitation of Sudan’s embattled President Hassan Omar Al-Bashir to participate in the promulgation of Kenya’s constitution.

Musa Sirlma, who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Global Action, an international group that supports the Rome Statute, said Kenya abdicated its responsibility of enforcing the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against the indicted Sudanese leader.

“I am particularly not happy in that Kenya has ratified the International Crime Act, or we have in fact domesticated (it). In 2008, we deposited our instrument and we believe that the leadership in this country would have seen it wise that they go by the rule of law. I will be seeking from the minister to tell us why he saw it fit to invite His Excellency Al-Bashir to Kenya,” he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama joined former U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan in expressing shock and disappointment over Mr. Bashir’s invitation and participation during the promulgation Friday of Kenya’s constitution.

In a statement, Mr. Obama said Kenya’s government “has committed itself to full cooperation with the ICC, and we consider it important that Kenya honor 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.”

Some officials in Kenya’s coalition government also condemned the Sudanese leader’s participation after accusing some within the Kenyan administration of keeping his visit under tight wraps. A group of Kenyans also demonstrated demanding Mr. Bashir’s arrest.

Sirlma said the foreign minister will have to explain the rationale behind the Sudanese leader’s invitation in defiance of The Hague based court and the international community.

“If we keep these people who believe in war, war crimes and genocide, then how are we going to be setting (an) example and becoming an island of peace, which we have been in East Africa?” he asked.

He also said that Kenya should be “teaching” the Sudanese leader about the need to respect and practice democracy and the rule of law instead of inviting him to “mar Kenya’s day in the sun.”