, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has added his voice of disapproval, concerning the presence of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during Friday\’s Constitution promulgation ceremony.
Speaking during the People\’s Promulgation and Dedication of Constitution Prayer Service at PCEA Kinoo, the premier termed President Bashir\’s presence as a ‘wrong move’ and insisted that the country must honour its obligations as a signatory of the Rome statute and other international agreements.
“We have a problem with our neighbour Sudan, I have spoken in my own capacity as Raila Odinga and I have a right to do so and I think we must stand by what we have signed as a government,” the Premier said.
Mr Odinga said that President Al-Bashir’s presence and failure by the government to arrest him made Kenya look bad in the eyes of the international community because of his indictment.
“We must foster good neighbourliness, that is very important and that’s why we invited neighbours to come but if you have a neighbour who is a witch, you don’t invite them to a party,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
His sentiments echo those of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, and The Orange Democratic Movement, who have roundly criticised the presence of the Sudanese President.
“Africa has come a long way. We used to have the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was crippled in terms of functioning because there was a clause which said about non-interference with the internal affairs of a sovereign state,” he explained.
“Leadership in a country could carry out genocide and OAU was completely impotent to deal with it but when we formed the AU (African Union), we said goodbye to sovereignty,” he added.
President Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), on allegations of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide over alleged atrocities in Sudan\’s Darfur region.
But Local Government Assistant Minister Lewis Nguyai who was also present at the church service was of the opinion that the international community should respect our country’s sovereignty.
“There is a delicate balance between good neighbourliness and diplomacy and obviously we being members of the AU, we know that there are challenges and we are signatories to the ICC but we are also signatories to the collective agreement of peace within Sudan so I would urge the rest of the world to allow us to be a sovereign nation,” he opined.
Former Legislator Paul Muite said the Sudanese President should not have been allowed into the country.
“We are violating the spirit of those who died in the post election violence. There can be no resolution that would force Kenya to violate the constitution which we have just enacted,” Mr Muite said.
Separately, the Government has maintained that it has no regrets for inviting Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to grace Kenya’s historic moment of promulgation of a new Constitution.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told off countries critising Kenya over Mr Bashir\’s visit saying they had failed to subscribe to the Rome Statute that gave the International Criminal Court the mandate to try perpetrators of human rights abuses.
“It is a matter of deep concern that some countries making regrettable remarks about Kenya and who are also members of the UN Security Council have no commitment at all to ICC as they have failed to subscribe to the Rome Statute,” the statement read in part.
Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka said Kenya was taking advantage of the new momentum for peace in the region and as such it was necessary for the country to engage both parties in Sudan’s CPA.
“Apart from being an immediate neighbour, Sudan’s stability is vitally linked to Kenya’s continued peace and future well being,” Mr Onyonka said.
Transport Minister Amos Kimunya who was also at the press briefing on Sunday said Kenya should be grateful to President Bashir for honouring the call and visiting the country.
“Kenyans must be thankful to him that he took the risk of international warrant of arrest against him to travel out of Sudan to honour the people of Kenya,” Mr Kimunya said.