The International Criminal Court has asked Kenya to arrest Sudan President Omar Al Bashir if he attends a regional meeting slated for the end of October in Nairobi.
In a show of determination, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo obtained a ruling which also requires the government to inform the Pre-Trial Chamber any reasons that will stop it from arresting Mr Bashir.
Expectations are high that the Sudan president is likely to attend the Inter-governmental Authority for Development (Igad) summit that on October 30.
“The Chamber (Pre-Trial), renewed its request to the Republic of Kenya to take any necessary measure to ensure that the President of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, in the event that he travels to Kenya, be arrested and surrendered to the Court in accordance with its obligations as a State Party to the Rome Statute,” a statement by the ICC stated.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo, who has issued two warrants of arrest against Mr Bashir, had requested the Pre-Trial Chamber to make a ruling that will oblige Kenya after receiving information that the Sudan president was likely to attend the Igad meeting.
The ruling was made by Judges Cuno Tarfusser, Sykvia Steiner and Sanji Mmasenono Monageng. They said the made the ruling following “a notification of the Prosecutor (Moreno-Ocampo) informing the Judges of the possibility that Omar Al Bashir might travel to Kenya for an Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) summit on October 30.”
The Igad meeting is crucial to Mr Bashir since his government has been dragging its feet towards the scheduled January referendum which will determine the fate of a united Sudan.
Sudan Vice President Salva Kiir, who is the President of South Sudan, has warned that they will vote to secede should the North sabotage the referendum.
Even though Kenya is a state party to the Rome Statute, it failed to arrest Mr Bashir when he visited the country on August 27 to attend the promulgation of the new Constitution.
The ICC immediately reported Kenya to the UN Security Council for allowing Mr Bashir to visit Nairobi.
The government has explained that the decision was taken for the sake of stability in Sudan and as a crucial step towards a peaceful referendum in the vast country divided along the North-South axis in January.
Last month, President Kibaki informed the United Nations that the stability of Sudan is crucial to the stability of the whole region, indicating that should Mr Bashir be arrested, the peace agreement is likely to collapse.
“I believe that continued engagement with the leadership of both the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is the only way towards the peaceful resolution of the challenges facing the Sudan,” he told the UN General Assembly on September 23.
The African Union members have decided not to arrest the Sudan President despite of majority of them being state parties to The Hague treaty.
World leaders, including US President Barack Obama and former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan were outraged by Bashir’s visit.
However, pressure has been mounting on Kenya to arrest Mr Bashir with 23 groups from different African countries writing to President Kibaki to arrest the Sudan leader.
Last week, Mr Hassan Shire Sheikh of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said: “A return visit by al-Bashir would make a mockery of Kenya’s declared commitments to the International Criminal Court, and would be an insult to victims of atrocities in Darfur and globally.”
The Kenya chapter of the International Commission of Jurists is planning to go court to obtain a warrant of arrest against Mr Bashir to force the government to enforce the summon by the ICC.
Yesterday, the Pre-Trial Chamber, in its ruling, requested Kenya to submit reasons by October 29, which will stop it from arresting the Sudan president.
“Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested the Republic of Kenya to inform the Chamber, no later than 29 October, about any problem which would impede or prevent the arrest and surrender of Omar Al Bashir in the event that he visits the country on 30 October,” the statement said.