Kenya has explained to the International Criminal Court why it did not arrest Sudan President Omar Bashir when he attended the promulgation of new constitution.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang'ula told the President of the assembly of state parties to the Rome statute of the ICC Mr Christian Wenaweser that Kenya was bound by African Union's decision not to arrest Bashir.
“The minister clarified that the decision not to arrest Bashir was a resolution by the African Union, of which Kenya is also a member, and due to the complexity of the crisis in Darfur, AU was in agreement that arresting Bashir during this critical period towards a referendum would jeopardize the peace process,” a statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs communication’s chief, Judith Ngunia, said.
The minister explained that following the issuance of the arrest warrant for Bashir, the AU, noting the complexity of the Sudan in relation to Darfur, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the relationship between the North and the South, invoked a clause of the ICC and asked the UNSC to suspend the warrant to allow the African efforts to resolve the crisis.
The UNSC never came back to Africa following which the AU summit in Sirte in July 2009, in Addis in January 2010 and in July Kampala 2010, took a decision that its member states were not obliged to cooperate on the case of Bashir, and invoked a Sanctions clause in the Constitutive Act, for non-compliance.
The AU position was also guided by recommendations of its Panel of Eminent Persons led by President Mbeki that urged the solving of the Sudan problem within a comprehensive framework of peace, security, justice and stability.
The minister who is attending a UN General Assembly in New York added that Bashir’s visit “was in the wider context of good neighbourliness and peace in the region as Kenya was a strategic partner of Sudan, and also the custodian of the comprehensive peace agreement and therefore had a mandate to safeguard the peace process towards a successful referendum in January 2011.”
The minister who met Mr Wenaweser in New York assured him of Kenya’s commitment in fighting impunity and that Kenya will defend the Rome statute as witnessed in the recent signing of the agreement with the ICC registrar in Nairobi.
The agreement gives the court independence to fully and efficiently discharge its mandate and fulfill its purpose within the country.
Mr Wenaweser is also the permanent Representative of Lichestien to the UN in New York.
He supported Kenya’s effort to continue engaging both parties in Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement for a successful referendum in 2011 and to ensure that peace, security and stability prevails in Sudan during and after the referendum.
Mr Wenaweser also supported the recent political developments in Sudan with regard to the CPA, and following talks between Presidents Kibaki and Bashir of Sudan in Nairobi in which the two parties agreed that the referendum must go on as scheduled for January 9.
Mr Wenaweser said Africa had the biggest membership within ICC and therefore should not be ignored, and pledged to support Kenya’s effort to have more funds directed towards peace keeping in the region and in particular in Somalia.
Mr Wetang'ula was accompanied by Kenya’s ambassador to Ethiopia Dr Monica Juma among others.
Kenya got a backlash from among others US President Barack Obama for hosting Mr Bashir during the promulgation ceremony.
Mr Bashir is wanted by the ICC over atrocities committed in Sudan’s region of Darfur.