Kenya - Sudan

Wanted Sudanese president in Kenya for constitution celebrations

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki (L) meets Sudanese President Omar al Bashir (R) at the promulgation of the new constitution in Nairobi.
Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki (L) meets Sudanese President Omar al Bashir (R) at the promulgation of the new constitution in Nairobi. Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged atrocities in Darfur, arrived in Kenya on Friday for the formal adoption of the country's new constitution. Rights groups and Darfur rebels have called on Kenya to fulfill its commitment to the ICC and arrest the wanted president.

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Beshir's name did not appear on the published list of heads of state expected to attend Friday's ceremony in Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

But he arrived and was ushered to the main dais, where he shook hands with other African leaders attending.

The ICC has issued two arrest warrants against Beshir, on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Darfur rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, both called on Friday for Beshir to be handed over to the court before he had the chance to return to Sudan.

Human Rights Watch called on Kenya to either keep Beshir out of its territory or arrest him, insisting that, as a state party to the ICC, the country is required to cooperate with the court.

"Kenya will forever tarnish the celebration of its long-awaited constitution if it welcomes an international fugitive to the festivities," said Elise Keppler of HRW's International Justice
Programme.

Chad was criticised for failing to hand over Beshir when he visited the country in July.

An African Union summit last month judged that the ICC warrants against Beshir were counterproductive to peace in Darfur, and advised member states to ignore them.

At the ceremony in Nairobi's Uhuru Park, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed the constitution, which comes into effect today after a heated campaign for its endorsement.

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