Kenya: Court Order to Arrest Sudan’s Bashir ‘Very Unhelpful’

Posted November 29th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Kenya's foreign minister has expressed “deep concern” at a high court ruling ordering the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Moses Wetang'ula said in a statement Tuesday that the order is “very unhelpful” and a “direct affront” to the principle that heads of state are immune from criminal prosecution. He added the Kenyan government is considering an appeal.

President Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, where his government has been fighting rebels since 2003.

The Kenyan High Court ruled Monday the government must arrest Mr. Bashir “should he ever set foot in Kenya.”

Khartoum responded by expelling Kenya's ambassador to Sudan and withdrawing its own ambassador from Nairobi.

The Kenyan government failed to arrest President Bashir during a visit in August of last year.

The ICC has said that as a member state, Kenya was obligated to arrest Mr. Bashir.

Kenya's foreign minister said the government will do everything it can to preserve what he described as the “very cordial and fraternal relations” between Kenya and Sudan.

Sudan's foreign ministry had earlier said the court ruling was linked to Kenya's domestic politics and would not affect bilateral relations.

Sudan does not recognize the authority of the International Criminal Court, and Mr. Bashir has flouted the arrest warrants by repeatedly traveling abroad, though mostly to countries that are not ICC members.

The ICC says Mr. Bashir orchestrated a campaign of murder, rape, and other crimes against civilians in Darfur.

The U.N. says fighting and related violence in Darfur have killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced some 2.7 million others.