Kenya’s ambassador to the United States is defending his government’s refusal to arrest the president of Sudan on war-crime charges when he visited Kenya for a celebration of the new constitution.
Ambassador Elkanah Odembo argued that Sudan would have exploded into another civil war had Kenya apprehended Sudanese President Omar Bashir at the Aug. 27 ceremony in Nairobi. He did not explain why Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki invited Lt. Gen. Bashir in the first place, nor why Mr. Kibaki kept the visit a secret from Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and other government ministers.
“Sudan would erupt in a civil war … I’m willing to put money on it,” Mr. Odembo told the National Democratic Institute in Washington earlier this week.
He emphasized that “it is certainly important Sudan holds together” until southern Sudanese decide in a January referendum on whether to declare independence from the rest of the nation.
“I say that as someone who condemns in the strongest possible way the crimes committed against the people of Darfur,” Mr. Odembo added, according to a report in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper.
The International Criminal Court indicted Gen. Bashir in 2008 on charges of war crimes and this year on charges of genocide against Sudanese citizens in Darfur in the southern part of the country, where an uprising broke out in 2003. The civil war, which claimed about 300,000 lives, pitted the ethnic Arabs of the north against black Africans in the south.
President Obama last week criticized Kenya for inviting Gen. Bashir to the signing ceremony for the new constitution.
“I am disappointed that Kenya hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in defiance of International Criminal Court warrants for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide,” said Mr. Obama.
South Africa this week refused to recall its scandal-plagued ambassador to the United States, arguing that the envoy has not been convicted of any crime and dismissing news reports of bribery.
“I can say we have read about the allegations in the newspapers, but the allegations have not been tested. Therefore, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told members of Parliament who demanded the recall of Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool on Wednesday.
The Cape Argus newspaper in June revealed that Mr. Rasool paid two of its former reporters to write favorable stories about him when he served as premier of the Western Cape Province. The reporters also received provincial government contracts for a public relations firm they set up while working for the Cape Town daily.
Mr. Rasool has denied the allegations and refused any further comment, according to South African media.
The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe this week warned that the southern African nation - beset with a tyrannical government, hyperinflation and massive unemployment - remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists.
“Journalists and publishers continue to be under threat for doing their work, with a dangerous increase in self-censorship due to the fear of criminal defamatory suits,” Ambassador Charles Ray said in a speech at the 10th anniversary of the Radio Voice of the People Trust, an independent radio network.
Under President Robert Mugabe, political opponents face brutal repression, unemployment has soared to 94 percent and inflation has hit a staggering 100 percent a day. In December 2008, the Forbes Asia financial magazine estimated the annual inflation rate at 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent - 65 followed by 107 zeros.
- Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail email@example.com.