, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 1 – Britain on Wednesday summoned Kenya’s High Commissioner in London over the visit by Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir during the Constitution promulgation festivities last week.
A statement from the British High Commission in Nairobi said officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK conveyed the disappointment of the British government that President Bashir travelled to Kenya in defiance of arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
“They emphasised that the UK expects the Government of Kenya to stand by its obligations under the Rome Statute, and as a UN member state,” read the statement.
President Bashir’s visit elicited immediate uproar both in Kenya and internationally, with some members of the Cabinet saying they had not been informed of his invitation.
The government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, defended its decision saying Kenya was abiding by a resolution of the African Union which wanted the arrest warrants suspended to give room for peace negotiations in Darfur.
The ICC has reported Kenya to the United Nations Security Council over the visit and failure to arrest President Bashir.
“Officials recalled that the Government of Kenya has repeatedly committed itself to full cooperation with the ICC in respect of crimes in Kenya, and stressed the importance that the British government places on such commitments,” said the UK statement.
Kenya has reiterated its commitment to cooperate with the ICC, but in the case of Sudan it argues that Kenya has a strategic interest in ensuring peace and stability in the sub-region and promoting peace, justice and reconciliation.
A Foreign Affairs statement on Sunday said: “As a member of the IGAD and a guarantor to the peace process in Sudan, Kenya has an absolute obligation to continuously engage with both….parties to the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) and their leadership.”
The government has confirmed that President Kibaki held a meeting with the Sudanese leader during his Friday visit. Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said President Bashir met on August 29 with South Sudan leader Salva Kiir and reaffirmed his commitment to the South Sudan referendum which is scheduled for January.