Row over Bashir Visit to Kenya

August 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al Bashir (R) arrives escorted by Kenya's Tourism minister Najib Balala for the promulgation of Kenya's New Constitution at the Uhuru Park grounds on August 27, 2010 in Nairobi.

As Kenyans came together to celebrate the promulgation of a new Constitution that would mark the birth of our 2nd Republic, few would have guessed that among the invited guests would be a man capable of stealing the spotlight from the Nation.

But one such guest, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is a wanted man Internationally for War crimes and the alleged role of genocide in Dafur, did just that..

Having signed both the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declaration and International Criminal Court (ICC) Rome Statutes, the member states are mandated to arrest Mr. Bashir, should he happen to visit any these Countries. Kenya is certainly one of those countries, having ratified the ICJ treaty in 1965 and Ratified the Rome Statute in 2005. As one of the veteran members of the Court, Kenya is expected to be among it’s staunchest supporters.

It is with this in mind that many have found the Governments decision to have invited Bashir, un-called for. So much so, that Pres Obama saw it fitting to condemn the act in the same breath as his Congratulatory message in Kenya’s most significant day since Independence. Voices of disapproval did not only come from Diplomats around the world, as more were to be found at home. Among them was Medical Services Minister Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, who sought to distance ODM from this decision and later the PM himself, who cried foul – stating that he was not informed of the invite.

However well placed the tongue lashing over Bashir’s visit is, there are a few voices that simply ought to have been mull over the matter. I am of the opinion that POTUS (Pres Of The U.S.) shoud have held his tongue on the matter. Given the at the US has shied away from ratifying the Rome statute, it has no business advising any Nation on how to be an effective member of the same. The other vexing voice, was that of the good Minister for Medical Services, who never seems to appreciate that he is part of the Government of Kenya. He should have spared us the press conferences and save some of these debates for closed cabinet meetings.

But that is water under the bridge.

However, one can not help to wonder why Pres. Kibaki would find it fitting to invite Mr. Bashir. What does his government stand to gain by openly defying the ICC? Additionally, why would ODM not tow the Govt line on this issue? After all, last time we all checked it was ODM that had more individuals under ICC’s radar who would be sent to the Hague in the event that ICC Prosecutor Mr. Ocampo, made his rounds in Kenya.

My bet is that it was meant to send a very strong Signal to the Hague, not to dig too deep into the events of the P.E.V, especially if those efforts would lead to implicating the State House occupant. What the Government was saying, is that they could very well opt not to cooperate and instead seek the now ‘expert’ Counsel of Pres. Bashir on how to ‘make it’ as an International fugitive.

About King'ori
Sillicon Valley Techie / Community Organizer / Activist. I dream of a day when the East African Federation shall become a reality!

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