Friday, September 03, 2010

Kenya was perfectly right to invite Sudan's president - Bashir's arrival brought Kenya airport to a standstill

Quotes of the Day
If Kenya had arrested Mr Bashir, "Sudan would erupt in a civil war that is going to be bigger and more devastating than the civil war [that began] 20 years ago," Kenya's new ambassador to the U.S., Elkanah Odembo, declared. "I'm willing to put my money on it.".
(Source: Kenya Watch - see 'Further Reading' below)

"It is my wish that the international community would appreciate the delicate situation of Sudan and act proactively. We should not isolate the people of Sudan. Let us encourage them to play their rightful role in the community of nations," Kenyan President Kibaki told the 14th Comesa summit of heads of state and government in Ezulwini, Swaziland.
(Source: Daily Nation - Sep 1, 2010)

"It is clear that the attempt by the Pre-Trial Chamber and some of the UN Security Council members to create a controversy totally fails to appreciate the context of the Horn of Africa region." -Thuita Mwangi, Aug 29, 2010
(Source: see op-ed here below)

Photo: Kenya (Source:
Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
Area - comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Nevada
Land: total: 3,477 km
Boundaries: border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km
Population: 33,829,590
Languages: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages
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Kenya was perfectly right to invite Sudan President Omar al-Bashir
The Nation (Kenya) - 29 August 2010 at 16:58
In the last two days, a lot of heat has been generated around the visit of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during the promulgation of our new Constitution.

The unfortunate statements attributed to some members of the UN Security Council as well as the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber cannot go without a response. The statements, and the decision, assert that African Union member states have “a clear obligation to co-operate with the Court in relation to the enforcement of such warrants of arrest. . . .’’ to which Kenya is a State Party.

It is quite curious that the decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber was made strangely in respect of the “expected attendance of Omar Al Bashir at the celebration scheduled for Friday 27 August”. Anyone conversant with the proper role and mandate of the ICC must be dismayed by the manner in which this decision was arrived at, let alone the substance and implications.

It is clear that the attempt by the Pre-Trial Chamber and some of the UN Security Council members to create a controversy totally fails to appreciate the context of the Horn of Africa region. First, Kenya’s stability is linked to that of its neighbours and the region. Indeed, Kenya has an abiding interest in ensuring peace and stability there by promoting peace, justice and reconciliation.

This can be achieved through continuous engagement with the Sudanese Government. Kenya has remained seized with Sudan, supporting the process that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as well as its implementation. Kenya continues to bear the negative consequences of the civil war that it helped negotiate to end.

For this reason, the country remains keen to pursue any measure that would encourage Sudan to attain sustainable peace. Furthermore, as a member of IGAD and a guarantor to the peace process in Sudan arising from the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the impending referendum in South Sudan, Kenya has an absolute duty and obligation.

The objective of having representation from the region, particularly Sudan, at Kenya’s most historic political event was therefore, to share a positive national development and to encourage Sudan as it moves towards its own historic referendum in early 2011.

The enthusiasm of the ICC to involve the UN Security Council is not only a reflection of its failure to appreciate the intricate reality on the ground, but also an indicator of yet another effort to force African countries to support the ICC.

This is irrespective of the complex dynamics that require striking a balance between peace and justice, which Kenya believes is not only necessary for Sudan, but essential for stabilising the region. In inviting President Bashir, Kenya is acting in alignment with the African Union decisions on this matter.

Interestingly, both the statements and the decisions grossly ignore the obligations of Kenya to the AU, arising from decisions of Assembly/AU/Dec. 245(XIII) adopted by the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, wherein the Assembly “decide[d] that in view of the fact that the request by the African Union has never been acted upon (by UN Security Council), the AU Member States shall not co-operate pursuant to the provisions of Article 98 of the Rome Statute of the ICC relating to immunities, for the arrest and surrender of President Omar El Bashir of The Sudan”.

Also, the statements did not take cognisance of the obligations of AU member states arising from Article 23 (2) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which obligates all members “to comply with the decisions and policies of the Union”. To this extent, the decisions adopted by the AU policy organs are binding on Kenya.

Kenya strongly believes that sustainable peace and security anywhere must be underpinned by the three interconnected, mutually interdependent pillars of peace, justice and reconciliation.

It will be recalled that the repeated appeals to the UN Security Council by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union as well as the AU Peace and Security Council to defer the proceedings against President Bashir for one year, and to allow for the peace process to make irreversible progress, have never been acted upon by the UN Security Council.

Mr Mwangi is permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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Khartoum regime leader arrival brings Kenya airport to a standstill - 02 Sepember 2010
(eTN) - Last week’s promulgation of the new constitution in Kenya saw several heads of state grace the occasion with their presence, including Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and they all landed with full protocol at Nairobi’s main airport Jomo Kenyatta International. In stark contrast, however, the Khartoum’s regime leader, Bashir, snuck into Kenya through Wilson Airport from where he also left the country later on under a shroud of secrecy.

Air operators and passengers normally using Wilson Airport were reportedly irate over the closures of the airport for all traffic between arrival and departure of the tyrant, and three regular sources minced no words over this event - none of the comments, however, are fit to be repeated in the public domain, probably in itself a hint about how strong the sentiments were and what words were flying. Flights in and out of Wilson, East Africa’s busiest airport, were halted and then long delayed, scheduled flights to and from the national parks were disrupted, and charters had to be halted as passengers could either not get into Wilson Airport or because all commercial operations were grounded for the duration.

It appears that many of the leading politicians in Kenya did not know of his presence, and subsequently squabbles arose in Kenya’s political establishment over the wisdom of inviting an alleged war criminal and alleged genocidaire, wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Kenya is a signatory country to the ICC Convention and will be facing not just tough questions by the ICC but has already incurred the wrath of US President Obama and many other world leaders, who sharply condemned the invitation and presence of Bashir in Nairobi for the event. It is also understood that the ICC referred Kenya’s decision and behavior to the United Nations Security Council where the case is due to be discussed and a possible reaction and response will be prepared.

The ICC is also drafting indictments against perpetrators and promoters of the post 2007 election violence and instead of reveling in the newly-found world attention and spotlight, the day was by all accounts spoiled by Bashir’s presence. The alleged war criminal, brought to the venue by tourism minister Balala – a visitor Balala would also rather like to forget soon considering the negative publicity it brought to Kenya – had, according to a reliable source in Nairobi’s foreign ministry, secured guarantees beforehand that the arrest warrant would not be executed against him, and he only traveled to Nairobi after these assurances were given in writing. Subsequently, some government mouthpieces tried to defend the presence of Bashir in Kenya for the big day but were rubbished by the comments of many Kenyans posted on blogs and social websites, who openly questioned the sanity of the invitation.

The fallout has also reached the Southern Sudan, where regular high-ranking sources, on condition of strict anonymity, expressed their anger and disappointment with Kenya, having fully expected to see the First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan, who is also the President of Southern Sudan, Gen. Salva Kiir, represent their country. In fact, some opinions proffered to this correspondent spoke of unspecified consequences for Kenya in their dealings with Southern Sudan. It appears that Gen. Kiir was all set to fly to Nairobi but was apparently told at the last moment that his presence would, after all, not be required as regime chief Bashir would travel himself.

Upon probing if they would have wanted Bashir, their former arch enemy, arrested, they were all the more guarded, with one claiming "it would not have helped us with the independence referendum" before adding "we know that hardliners in Khartoum and their backers abroad are not happy with Bashir for permitting us to move to independence. We are aware that there is [an]underground movement about this, but we hope all stays in place until January 9, 2010 when we will vote to become an independent country. After that the North can do what they want about Bashir, it is no longer our concern then."

Kenya’s "Second Republic" was launched with glitz and glamour in a grand ceremony at Uhuru Park, where in 1963 the late founder president Jomo Kenyatta took the oath of office as he led his then nascent and young nation into independence, but the presence of Bashir has shaken many international observers and friends of Kenya who now ask what, if anything, has really changed so far as several laws seem to have been broken by the Kenyans’ responsible for the invitation and with absolute impunity.

Tourism stakeholders meanwhile, while appearing somewhat unsettled over the huge controversy the Bashir presence caused in the country and worse for them across the world, were still jubilant over the fashion the referendum was held, the votes counted, and the new constitutional requirements are now unfolding, and that it will ensure lasting peace and reconciliation among leading political opponents, giving hope for free and fair elections in 2012 and allowing the tourism industry to prosper and grow, at last fulfilling Kenya’s enormous potential along the Indian Ocean beaches and in their national parks and game reserves.
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Note from the editor of Sudan Watch:
Red highlighting is mine. Ref the above, who exactly are 'the hardliners in Khartoum and their backers abroad'?
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Note the following from Kenya Watch, a sister site of Sudan Watch:

ICC issues Press Release about Sudanese President Bashir’s visits to Kenya and Chad
Kenya Watch - Friday, 27 August 2010
ICC Press Release: Friday, 27 August 2010
Pre-Trial Chamber I informs the Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties about Omar Al Bashir’s visits to Kenya and Chad
Case: The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir
Situation: Darfur, Sudan
Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued two decisions informing the Security Council of the United Nations and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute about Omar Al Bashir’s visits to the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Chad, “in order for them to take any measure they may deem appropriate”. ...

EU: Statement by the spokesperson of HR Catherine Ashton on Sudanese President Al-Bashir's visit to Kenya
Kenya Watch - Monday, 30 August 2010
EU raps Kenya over Bashir visit. The European Union on Monday warned Kenya to tread carefully to avoid violating international laws ...

Sudan summons EU envoy over Bashir's Kenya visit
Kenya Watch - Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Sudan summoned the EU ambassador on Tuesday to protest against a European Union statement criticising Kenya for hosting President Omar Hassan al-Bashir last week, Sudanese state media said. ... Sudan's foreign ministry said a statement by the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, raising concern at Bashir's Kenya visit was "totally unacceptable" ...

New envoy to U.S. defends Bashir visit - Kenya's President Kibaki breaks silence on Sudan leader’s visit
Kenya Watch - Thursday, 2 September 2010
Quote of the Day: If Kenya had arrested Mr Bashir, "Sudan would erupt in a civil war that is going to be bigger and more devastating than the civil war [that began] 20 years ago," Kenya's new ambassador to the U.S., Elkanah Odembo, declared. "I'm willing to put my money on it."...

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