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Sudan Tribune

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Kenya invites Bashir to IGAD summit as he challenges world to arrest him

March 3, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir today received an invitation to participate in an extraordinary summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to be held in Nairobi next week.

Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir (U.S. Navy)
Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir (U.S. Navy)
The Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula delivered the invitation from his boss president Mwai Kibaki during a meeting in the Sudanese capital with his counterpart Deng Alor. Wetangula was accompanied by Ethiopian minister of foreign affairs Seyoum Mesfin.

Alor said that the visit came as part of an ongoing effort by IGAD to review the progress on the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and preparations for the upcoming elections in April.

He said that IGAD is concerned over the CPA implementation and relations between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) which controls the South.

The Sudanese top diplomat also disclosed that his government requested a rescheduling of the IGAD summit to from March 9 to a date after the elections. However, it is not clear if IGAD heeded to the request.

Kenya which is a signatory of the Rome Statute treaty which forms the basis of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has an obligation to arrest Bashir given an outstanding arrest warrant for him issued a year ago on charges related to crimes committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Furthermore, the ICC judges are currently mulling a request from the prosecutor to open a high profile investigation into post-election violence events in 2007 and 2008.

Today the ICC prosecutor filed a brief with the Pre-Trial judges in response to a clarification requested on the nature of the violent acts committed and proof that it can be classified as crimes against humanity with links to state as part of organizational policy.

The Kenyan public is eagerly awaiting the judges’ decision on a case that has received their overwhelming support.

The ICC prosecutor met last year with Kenyan President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga and asserted their desire to cooperate fully with the court in its work.

Bashir addressing NCP supporters in the Sudanese capital said that he will continue to travel worldwide despite the warrant accusing world powers of standing behind his indictment.

“They are liars, hypocrites…this [my destiny] is not in the hands of the US or the UN and we will not kneel before them like others did” the Sudanese president said.

“We do not fear them and we will continue to travel because death can be through fever or malaria or a traffic accident but a happy death is to die as a martyr to join my fellows who were martyred” he added.

The Sudanese head of state managed to maintain ability to travel regionally to countries such as Ethiopia, Egypt, Eretria, Libya and going as far as Zimbabwe and Mauritania, none of which are ICC members.

But Bashir has also turned down several invitations over the past year to attend events in Uganda, Nigeria, Venezuela, Denmark, Turkey, South Africa and US.

The African Union (AU) has gave full backing to Bashir in its summit last year and decided that no African nation will cooperate with the ICC in apprehending him even if party to the Rome Statute though some countries have later dissented from this resolution.

Last year in a joint press conference with US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton, foreign minister Wetangula defended the AU wanted the UN Security Council (UNSC) to invoke its powers under Article 16 of the Rome Statute to suspend Bashir’s indictment for a year.

“The AU does not and has not and will not say that President Bashir is innocent, because we have no capacity to say that. He has been investigated, he has been indicted,” Wetangula told reporters

“Nobody will stand in the way of President Bashir being arrested and prosecuted, but for now, the AU’s position is that let’s see what internal mechanisms can be done. I don’t think the AU is asking for too much,” the Kenyan foreign minister said.

Wetangula did not say whether Kenya, an ICC member, is prepared to arrest Bashir if he was to visit despite the AU resolution.