Kenyan, Sudanese Officials Meet Over Bashir Warrant Dispute

Posted December 2nd, 2011 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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Kenya's foreign minister and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir met Thursday in Khartoum to try to resolve a dispute over a Kenyan court ruling ordering the arrest of Mr. Bashir.

The Kenyan High Court on Monday ordered the government to enforce an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir “should he ever set foot in Kenya.”

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, who has hinted he may appeal the ruling, said after Thursday's meeting he is confident the controversy will not damage his country's relations with Sudan.

Wetangula on Tuesday expressed “deep concern” at the ruling, saying it is “very unhelpful” and a “direct affront” to the principle that heads of state are immune from criminal prosecution.

Mr. Bashir is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

The U.N. says at least 300,000 people have been killed in the eight-year conflict between the government and rebel forces.

As an ICC member nation, Kenya is technically obligated to arrest Mr. Bashir. But it has instead followed the decision of the African Union, which has urged its members not to enforce the arrest warrant, saying the ICC has unfairly focused on African nations.

The dispute over the Kenyan court ruling has endangered diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Following the Kenyan court ruling, Khartoum threatened to expel Kenya's ambassador to Sudan and withdrew its own ambassador from Nairobi.