Sunday, 29 August 2010

End of ICC in Africa in sight

A futile furore led by the USA has been swirling around after Kenya refused to arrest indicted Sudanese president, in what appears to be the beginning of an end of ICC activities in Africa.

On 27 August, Omar Hasan al-Bashir defied an ICC arrest warrant by visiting Kenya - a country which was hoped would arrest him over allegations of war crimes and genocide in Darfur.
Bashir with Rwanda's Kagame at the ceremony
In fact, the failure by Nairobi to arrest Bashir means that no other African country will arrest Bashir - or indeed any other ICC suspects - except say South Africa and Uganda.

When Bashir visited Kenya, on the invitation of President Kibaki's ruling party, along with other regional leaders for the signing of Kenya's new constitution, he was treated with dignity.

The international community had largely expected that Kenya would arrest Bashir. And it becomes no surprise that the international community has been shell-shocked.

US President Barack Obama led the condemnation by the international community and local leaders over the Sudan leader’s presence during the historic ceremony. 

In a statement issued from the White House, President Obama said he was “disappointed that Kenya hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in defiance of International Criminal Court arrest warrants for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”.
He added: “In Kenya and beyond, justice is a critical ingredient for lasting peace.”

And America knows that that is exactly the reason Kenya cannot arrest Bashir - peace;  until maybe southern Sudan attains stability, independence and peace. That may be long, though.

Kenya is a guarantor of Sudan peace process. A key vote towards southern Sudan independence in on in January 2011. If Bashir is arrested, Sudan peace will unravel. Kenya does not want that!

Listen to what Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang'ula said over decision to invite Bashir to Nairobi.
"He was here… because we invited all neighbours and he is a neighbour. There are no apologies to make about anybody we invited to this function because I am sure we are enhancing peace and security and stability of this region more than anything else," he added. Wetang'ula said that Kenya did not act on the ICC warrant because the African Union has decided no member should arrest the Sudanese leader.

However, Prime Minister Raila Odinga's party, a partner in Kenya's coalition, denounced the visit by Bashir. “We will seek to know how President Bashir came here and why the government as a whole was neither consulted nor informed before such an unfortunate invitation was issued,” the Orange Democratic Movement party said.

Bashir's Kenya visit was his second trip to an ICC member state. The other member of the ICC that Bashir has visited is Chad. He has visited Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt and Libya, attended an Arab League summit in Qatar and performed a pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city, Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Bashir was charged in March 2009 with five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes for allegedly orchestrating atrocities in Darfur. In July this year, the ICC charged him with three counts of genocide.

Now that Kenya will not arrest Bashir, it is unlikely that it will arrest politicians and businessmen accused of being behind Kenya's 2008 violence. ICC is of course investigating the Kenya case.

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