The Kenyan government has welcomed a rebel leader from Darfur. The rebel, Suleiman Jamous, was given permission to leave Sudan to travel to Kenya for medical treatment. Arjun Kohli has more on the story from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi.

Sudan allowed Suleiman Jamous to leave on the condition that United Nations guarantees that he does not return to Darfur to fight. Jamous has spent more than a year at a U.N. hospital in Sudan because he feared arrest if he left.

The ailing rebel needs medical treatment - a stomach-biopsy - that cannot be performed at the U.N. hospital.

A spokesman for the Kenyan government, Alfred Mutua, tells VOA Kenya has better medical facilities than other countries in the region and does not turn people away.

"It is important to note that we have very senior government officials from Southern Sudan and Sudan who have received medical treatment in Kenya," said Mutua. "Here in the region we are one of the main places where people get sent for medical treatment and special operations and conditions."

The elderly rebel leader is widely popular in Darfur, and is considered a critical link between rebel groups and aid organizations trying to assist the people of Darfur. Before his confinement in the U.N. hospital, he served as a humanitarian coordinator for the Sudan Liberation Army.

There has been a widespread international campaign for his release, including statements from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams.

The United Nations moved Jamous into the hospital last year without the permission of the Sudanese government. Sudan has called him a criminal and had previously threatened to arrest him if he left the hospital.