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Kenyan warrant for Bashir sparks row with Sudan

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-29

Sudan has expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Nairobi after a Kenyan court on Monday ordered the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (pictured right), wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges.

REUTERS - A Kenyan court on Monday ordered the government to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by The Hague on genocide charges, prompting Sudan to order the expulsion of Kenya's ambassador and summon its own envoy from Nairobi.

Kenya was heavily criticised by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and foreign governments for failing to arrest Bashir when he attended a ceremony to enact a new Kenyan constitution in August last year.

The African Union has told its members not to heed the arrest warrant for Bashir - linked to his government's crackdown on rebels in Sudan's Darfur region - saying the ICC appeared to be singling out African leaders.

However, as an ICC member state, Kenya is obliged to cooperate with the court and its arrest warrants.

The Kenyan court ordered Bashir's arrest after the Kenyan chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) filed a suit against the country's attorney general and the internal security minister, seeking a new arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader.

Judge Nicholas Ombija said in his ruling that Bashir should be apprehended "should he set foot in Kenya in future".

In response, Sudan gave Kenya's ambassador in Khartoum 72 hours to leave the country and summoned its own ambassador from Nairobi, Sudan's foreign ministry spokesman El-Obeid Morawah told Reuters.

"Sudan has informed the ambassador of Kenya in Khartoum of a 72-hour deadline to leave the country," he said, adding the decision came "on the back of the Kenyan court's issuance of the ruling to detain Bashir."

Sudan's foreign ministry had earlier dismissed the ruling as politically motivated, and said it would not affect the country's relations with Kenya.

It had said the decision was linked to Kenya's domestic disputes and relations with the ICC more than with the situation in Sudan.

The ministry had added that it believed activists upset over the ICC's "failures" to apprehend suspects and over Bashir's successful visits abroad had pushed the court into making a "political decision".

ICC judges reported Kenya to the United Nations Security Council for failing to arrest Bashir.

The Hague-based court has issued two warrants for Bashir, one dating from March 2009 listing five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes, and one issued in July 2010, listing three counts of genocide.

The ICC has no police force and relies on member states to enforce its arrest warrants.

Bashir denies the charges, saying they are part of a Western conspiracy.

The African Union says another reason for its opposition to the ICC indictment of Bashir is the negative impact on Sudan's peace process, at a time of sensitive negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, which seceded in July.

Date created : 2011-11-29

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