The Institute for Democracy & Leadership in East Africa (IDEA) is challenging the commitment of Kenya as a Member of the United Nations International Criminal Court (ICC). Last Friday President Omar Bashir of Sudan who has been indicted by ICC was invited by the government of Kenya to attend a special promulgation ceremony of the country’s constitution despite the fact that he is a wanted man by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
IDEA learnt through its very reliable sources that the government jammed its national communication systems (TELKOM), paralyzing the whole network until the following day to facilitate President Bashir’s movement in the country.
Inviting Bashir to attend such an important historic occasion aimed at enhancing good governance and democracy in Kenya sends wrong signals regarding the commitment to change by the current crop of civilian dictators in Africa. It is also raising suspicion as to their commitment to the ICC process as member countries .Bashir’s invitation has shocked many Kenyans, eliciting criticism and doubts on President Kibaki’s Grand Coalition government especially its renewed commitment to good governance as being envisaged in the new constitution dispensation.
As a principle of good governance, respect for the Rule of law is fundamental and significant and therefore must be respected and honored in a civilized society. Donor and international communities including true and real Friends of Africa should not relent in pushing and demanding for democracy and good governance practice no matter what it takes.
As a signatory to the Rome statute from which ICC was established, Kenya government has betrayed the Statute and has gone against its moral duty and obligation. The government of Kenya should be made to explain circumstances that led to Bashir’s invitation and as to why it did not arrest him to be handed over to ICC for prosecution as an obligation
It was disgraceful and disrespectful for Bashir to sit comfortably among other invited dignitaries sharing a podium with other great leaders committed to Justice and the Rule of law like Koffi Annan. This behavior of disobeying the rule of law should be condemned and not tolerated totally because it is sending wrong signals to others practicing bad governance and killing innocent people in order to retain or remain in power.
Inviting Bashir to participate in the ceremony clearly showed that Kenya disrespects ICC and is not committed to its principles and values. It is also sending wrong signals that it will not honor its promise to hand over its own suspects currently under investigation by ICC for the year 2007-8 ethnic violence which left several people dead and thousands displaced as refugees.
Institute for Democracy & Leadership in East Africa (IDEA) as a regional capacity building institution enhancing democracy and governance is urging ICC to take stern measures on dishonest and other errand member countries going against its rules for the purpose of re-gaining public confidence and credibility. It cannot be business as usual for dictators to wander in joy and enjoy themselves as heroes and great leaders yet they maimed, killed and tortured innocent lives and people.
By Denise Kodhe,
Institute for Democracy & Leadership in East Africa (IDEA).
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