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UN protests over Bashir's Kenya visit

Monday August 30 2010

UN Security Council members vote during a UN Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York. PHOTO / FILE

UN Security Council members vote during a UN Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York. PHOTO / FILE 

By NATION TEAM [email protected]

The United Nations Security Council will determine the punishment to impose on Kenya for hosting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir last Friday.

On Monday, the UN said member-states were required to comply with resolutions passed on the Darfur crisis and the subsequent requests from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This came as more countries, the national human rights agency and MPs criticised the government for inviting Mr Al-Bashir to the promulgation of the new Constitution.

Mr Sarhan Haq, the UN spokesman in New York, USA, said the Security Council expected all signatories to the Rome Statute that created the ICC to arrest and hand over the Sudanese president to The Hague.

“The basic point is all resolutions of the Security Council call for compliance to requests of the International Criminal Court on the Darfur crisis. It is the duty of all member states to respect their obligations to the ICC and we expect their compliance,” he said by telephone interview with the Nation.

Mr Haq said since the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber had reported Kenya to the UN Security Council for allowing Mr Al-Bashir to step on its soil, member states would meet to take a decision.

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Even though Mr Haq was non-committal on the likely action against Kenya, Mr Salim Lone, a former director of Communications at the UN, said the Security Council was only likely to urge Kenya to respect its obligations to the ICC.

Respect her obligations

“If at all the Security Council acts, it might issue a statement urging Kenya to respect her obligations to the International Criminal Court. It is not a situation which the Security Council is likely to take a vote on,” he said.

A source said Kenya had been reported to the Security Council several times in the last 10 years over allegations of shielding wanted genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga, who has been indicted by the International Tribunal Court for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha Tanzania, with little effect.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Thuita Mwangi said the decision to invite Mr Al-Bashir was taken by a government committee in charge of the invitations that was co-chaired by the Head of Civil Service, Mr Francis Muthaura, and Office of the Prime Minister permanent secretary Mohammed Isahakiah.

The committee, he said, also invited Southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

“The letters were sent to both President Al-Bashir and Vice President Kiir. The committee even decided to go against protocol to invite both the President and the Vice President. When you are to invite guests, you don’t invite Foreign Affairs minister, you invite the Head of State,” Dr Isahakia said.

However, Lands minister James Orengo was categorical that ODM was kept in the dark over the invitation.

“If the point was to be seen to be encouraging engagements which promote regional peace and stability, then there should not have been any problem to announce his coming.

“I think there is some mischief in this because Kenya was seen as coming out to openly respect human rights. Mr Al-Bashir could have come on another day, perhaps to attend an Igad meeting,” he said.

Reports by Bernard Namunane, Fred Mukinda and Caroline Wafula