KENYA-SUDAN DIPLOMATIC ROW BY MURIMIMUTIGA. MOMBASA. NOVEMBER 29, 2011. Kenya government will not arrest Sudan president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir despite of a high court directive issued yesterday in Nairobi Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka said the order has no basis as Al-Bashir is not in Kenya and the International Criminal Court has not served Kenya with arrest warrants indicating the Sudanese president visit. Onyonka further said the overnment is awaiting official correspondence from the Republic of Sudan over the expulsion of Kenya’s Ambassador in Khartoum who was reportedly asked to leave the country within 72 hours after the Kenyan court issued the arrest orders.
The assistant minister who was speaking on the sidelines of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) committee of elders retreat at a Mombasa hotel, however downplayed the simmering diplomatic row between Nairobi and Khartoum saying ‘government to government contacts are still there’ despite Sudan recalling its envoy in Nairobi.
He said that intense diplomatic discussions were already underway and that president Kibaki has already written a protest note to his Sudanese counterpart to remove any lingering doubts that the Kenyan government might have been tactifly behind the court case.
On Mondayhigh court judge Nicholas Ombija ruled that Kenya being a signatory to the Romestatue that established The Hague based International Criminal Court (ICC) which indicted president el-Bashir in 2009 was obligated to detain him should he ever visit Kenya. Asked whether Kenya will comply with the court order Onyonka said, "due process has not been exhausted so people should not jump the guns because we can also appeal against the court decisions". He said Kenya has no capacity to arrest a sitting president like Al Bashir because of legal and security implications and wondered why ICC had not instituted other mechanisms to arrest him. Onyonka said Kenya and the Republic of Sudan share deep seated bilateral and multilateral ties that could be put into jeopardy if it were to arrest Al Bashir including the finalization of the Nothern and Southern Sudan desputes.
"President Kibaki has written to president El-Bashir to make it clear that the case was taken before the court by members of the civil society who are excited about the opportunities presented to them by the new constitutional order" said Onyonka. He said President El-Bashir was invited by Kenya in August last year during the promulgation of the new constitution since Kenya was at the time courting the Sudanese leader to accept the outcome of the referendum that paved the way for the independence of the South Sudan. Ends..............