Thursday, 2 September 2010

New envoy to U.S. defends Bashir visit - Kenya's President Kibaki breaks silence on Sudan leader’s visit

Quote of the Day
If Kenya had arrested Mr Bashir, "Sudan would erupt in a civil war that is going to be bigger and more devastating than the civil war [that began] 20 years ago," Kenya's new ambassador to the U.S., Elkanah Odembo, declared. "I'm willing to put my money on it."
Source: see report below.

President Barack Obama participates in a credential ceremony in the Oval Office, Aug. 10, 2010. The President greets Ambassador Elkanah Odembo Absalom of Kenya. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Kenya: New Envoy to U.S. Defends Bashir Visit
Report from The Nation, Kenya (hat tip:
Wednesday, 01 September 2010
In a talk in Washington on Tuesday sponsored by the international arm of the US Democratic Party, Kenya's new ambassador to the United States vigorously defended the recent visit to Nairobi by Sudan's indicted president.

Ambassador Elkanah Odembo did not explicitly say why President Omar al-Bashir had been invited to take part in the August 27 constitution promulgation ceremony.

But the envoy justified Kenya's willingness to let him travel unimpeded on the grounds that it conformed with Kenya's interest in promoting stability in neighbouring Sudan.

If Kenya had arrested Mr Bashir, "Sudan would erupt in a civil war that is going to be bigger and more devastating than the civil war [that began] 20 years ago," Ambassador Odembo declared.

"I'm willing to put my money on it."

Kenya's envoy, who presented his credentials to President Barack Obama six weeks ago, said "it is certainly important Sudan holds together" until southern Sudan decides in a scheduled January referendum whether to become an independent state.

"I say that as someone who condemns in the strongest possible way the crimes committed against the people of Darfur," Mr Odembo added.

President Bashir has been charged at the International Criminal Court with war crimes arising from the Sudanese government's actions in the country's Darfur region.

Kenya, as a signatory to the treaty establishing the ICC, is obligated to cooperate with the court.

The country's welcome to Mr Bashir drew criticism from President Obama and from human rights groups.

Ambassador Odembo noted on Tuesday that Kenya is the temporary home to many refugees from Darfur who have offered evidence to ICC prosecutors regarding atrocities in Darfur.

The envoy also said Kenya is playing a crucial role as guarantor of the peace agreement that put an end to the war between north and south Sudan that took an estimated two million lives.

He assured the audience at the National Democratic Institute that Kenya's defiance of the ICC in regard to President Bashir does not suggest that Kenya will refuse to cooperate with the ICC's investigation of those thought responsible for the post-election violence.
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President Kibaki is officially received by King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland on his arrival to the country for the 14th COMESA summit of Heads of State and Government. PHOTO / PPS

Kibaki breaks silence on Sudan leader’s visit
Report from The Nation, Kenya
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 at 22:00


President asks trade bloc and leaders to support country ahead of referendum

President Kibaki has pointed out that because of the fragile situation in Sudan ahead of the January referendum, the international community should embrace leaders of the oil-rich Eastern Africa state.
In an apparent response to criticism after Kenya hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during the promulgation of the new law last Friday, the president asked the international community to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

“It is my wish that the international community would appreciate the delicate situation of Sudan and act proactively. We should not isolate the people of Sudan. Let us encourage them to play their rightful role in the community of nations,” President Kibaki told the 14th Comesa summit of heads of state and government in Ezulwini, Swaziland.

He added: “I call upon all Comesa member-states to support and encourage the people of Sudan to resolve the outstanding issues in the agreement as we look forward to the holding of a peaceful referendum in the Sudan.”

The president said he was impressed with the leaders in the Sudan – President al-Bashir and first Vice-President Salva Kiir — for agreeing to work together.

President Kibaki met Mr al-Bashir at State House Nairobi after the Uhuru Park celebrations where he asked him to stick to the January 9, 2011 referendum date.

And at a meeting with Kenyans living in Swaziland, the President said the new constitution would enable Kenyans in the diaspora enjoy dual citizenship.

Speaking at his Royal Villa presidential suite, President Kibaki said the new constitution would open up many opportunities for Kenyans both at home and abroad.

“Dual citizenship is good because it will enable Kenyans in the diaspora to enjoy the benefits of their country of residence while at the same time make their contribution in the development of their country of birth,” he said.

Kenyans in Swaziland, through their chairman, Mr Haroun Wambua, commended President Kibaki and all Kenyans for the historic promulgation of the new constitution.

Additional reporting by PPS

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