Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Club boss says Kenya in order over al-Bashir

Commonwealth secretary general Kamalesh Sharma during the interview at Serena hotel. PHOTO / PHOEBE OKALL

Commonwealth secretary general Kamalesh Sharma during the interview at Serena hotel. PHOTO / PHOEBE OKALL  

By WALTER MENYA [email protected]

The Commonwealth has differed with the UK over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s visit last month.

The Sudanese leader, who is facing two arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court at The Hague (ICC), was in Nairobi on August 27 to attend celebrations to promulgate the new Constitution. The visit generated international condemnation.

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma on Tuesday asked the critics to understand Kenya’s multiple international obligations.

“Every member state signatory to the Rome Statute has to weigh its obligations according to the commitments it has made to other organisations as well.

“It is a much more complex matter than saying that you have one obligation created by one institution,” Mr Sharma told the Nation.

The Commonwealth boss acknowledged Kenya’s membership to multiple regional and international organisations, all of which have their aims and objectives.

“So a balance between international and national obligations has to be drawn by every member state of ICC. Kenya has to draw its own balance on this matter.

“It is not something the Commonwealth can be drawn into but the case has been made by Kenya that it has multiple obligations and it requires balancing,” he said.

Britain and other EU members summoned Kenyan envoys in protest against the government’s failure to arrest President al-Bashir.

Similarly, US President Barack Obama criticised Kenya for failing to enforce its international obligations.

However, the government has defended the visit, with President Kibaki urging support for the Sudan ahead of the South secession referendum in January next year.

The African Union has also asked its members not to cooperate with the ICC, after the court ignored its plea to suspend the warrants of arrest for a year to allow for an African solution to the Sudanese crisis.