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Monday, 09/20/2010

Kenya’s PM party distances itself from Bashir’s visit as more details emerge on trip


Sunday 29 August 2010  

August 28, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga was intentionally kept in the dark on plans to admit Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir into the country for the ceremony of signing Kenya’s new constitution, his party said today amid growing divisions in the cabinet on the decision to invite him.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary General Anyang Nyong was quoted by Kenyan newspapers as saying that that the party was unaware that Bashir would be at the event and only realized it when he arrived to join other dignitaries and heads of state at the ceremony.

“We would like to point out to Kenyans and the international community that this was indeed a very unfortunate visit that could put into question the commitment of the government to implement the Constitution of the second republic in letter and spirit,” Nyong told a news conference on Saturday according to Capital FM website.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in the war crimes that took place in Sudan’s Western region of Darfur. Kenya is an ICC member which means its obligated to execute the arrest warrant and him over to the Hague Tribunal.
On Friday the Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula brushed aside the local and international criticism saying that it was not an African tradition to embarrass or harm guests.
He also recalled the African Union (AU) decisions instructing its members not to arrest Bashir regardless of their obligations.
Wetangula asserted that his country will not allow "anyone to make friends and enemies" for it, revealing that Kibaki himself extended the invitation to Bashir.
But the ODM SG rejected Wetangula’s assertions and said that his party will demand an explanation for the incident from him.
“As we maintain cordial relations with our neighboring countries, we must not forget or disregard our equally important adherence to international conventions and commitments,” Nyong said.
“There was no knowledge on our part as partners in government on an invitation to al Bashir. The Minister for Foreign Affairs must come out clean and give us a very clear explanation of what happened,” he stressed.
He also disclosed that PM Odinga was unaware that Bashir was coming to town.
Odinga’s spokesperson told CNN yesterday that he was "shocked" at al-Bashir’s presence and that his attendance was "out of the blue."
He also said that he had not spoken to Odinga but described the situation that developed as "impossible."
The Kenyan Land minister James Orengo also joined other cabinet members such as Deputy Defence Minister David Musila and Fisheries minister Amason Kingi in condemning the visit.
“This is definitely not a good beginning to compound a new Constitution with an act of impunity,” Orengo said adding that besides the explanation, Kenya had to take full responsibility.
“We first have to give an explanation to ourselves because we broke our law that is supreme, besides violating an international agreement that we are a signatory.”
Musila again expressed his shock over the visit.
“We were shocked beyond words when we heard the master of ceremonies announce the arrival of President Bashir at Uhuru Park,” said Musila.
“His name was not on the list of invited guests that we had and some of us had been assured by a government official that Sudan would be represented at the function by President of the South, Mr Salva Kiir.”
The judges of the ICC issued a decision on Friday ordering the court’s registrar to report Kenya’s non-compliance to the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the Assembly of State Parties "in order for them to take any measure they may deem appropriate".
The UNSC referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in 2005 under a Chapter VII resolution.
Kenya "has a clear obligation to cooperate" in enforcing arrest warrants, the judges said.
The U.S. president Barack Obama, the European Union (EU) and several international human rights groups slammed Kenya’s hosting of the Sudanese president calling on the authorities there to arrest him.
However, Bashir only stayed in Kenya for a few hours before heading back home.
Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti said that “Kenya had invited A-Bashir to the summit in adherence with the African Union’s decision and it had shunned all the calls it received from many quarters and activists who stand behind the ICC and whose hopes were dissipated when Kenya welcomed Al-Bashir, especially that Kenya is a signatory of the ICC membership.”

’The Standard’ newspaper revealed the details surrounding Bashir’s arrival into Kenya which was cloaked with secrecy to pre-empt any negative reaction.
Sources told the newspaper that as part of the plan, Bashir’s plane landed in Nairobi’s Wilson Airport rather than the traditional Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as Kenya closed its airspace to facilitate President Bashir’s arrival and departure in a well coordinated and guarded operation known only to a few
Wilson Airport is the region’s busiest airport, which had been ordered closed for the whole day on security grounds by authorities.
Bashir had negotiated his security and received guarantees before accepting Kenya’s invitation, the security sources told the newspaper.
Furthermore, only a handful of top Kenyan civil servants from the ministry of foreign affairs, public service and internal security coordinated Bashir’s visit and ensured all other government officials were kept in the dark.

Most Kenyan officials were under the impression that Sudan First Vice President and South Sudan government (GoSS) president Salva Kiir was going to be present at the ceremony as a representative of his country. The Kenyan foreign ministry had confirmed Kiir attendance earlier this week.
The Kenyan Sunday Nation newspaper quoted a Southern official as saying that Kiir was planning to carry out the visit until the last minute and chided Nairobi saying they have humiliated GoSS president.
"Our president was all set to travel to Nairobi for the ceremony and had even sent his advance team, only to be called by President Bashir on Thursday afternoon informing him that he would be in Nairobi. Mr Kiir had no choice but to cancel his trip because protocol does not allow them to travel out of the country at the same time,” said the head of the Southern Sudan referendum campaign, John Andruga Duku.
“We were shocked to see him there. Why did the Kenya government invite our president while knowing very well that they had invited Bashir,” Duku added.











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