Al-Bashir rains on Kenya’s party

06 September 2010 by Koert Lindijer

Many Kenyans were disgusted when Omar al Bashir turned up for a party in Kenya last month to celebrate the country’s new constitution. They were dismayed when authorities failed to arrest the Sudanese president even though the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his detention. His controversial visit raises the question of whether the Kenyan government, despite signing up to the ICC, is genuine about wanting to cooperate.

Kenya, of course, has its own problems when it comes to the ICC. Several leading political figures have also been indicted as perpetrators of violence in Kenya’s election in 2007/8. Could it be that Kenya’s failure to detain al Bashir has anything to do with its own politicians’ fear of being hauled before the court?

Former UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan said “the Kenyan government should clarify its position on the ICC”. The Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commisson (KNHREC) said by hosting the Sudanese president Kenya has sent the wrong signals to the post-election violence victims and to the ICC.

KNHREC chairman Florence Sambiri-Jaoko believes that the government’s lack of action is a statement of impunity and sends a worrying message on the implementation of the new constitution.

“We want an assurance from the government that it would co-operate with the ICC and hand over people implicated in the skirmishes, because the country is under investigation by the court.

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