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Annan tells Kenya to respect judiciary's independence

07 December 2011, 17:05

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan has urged Kenya to respect the judiciary's independence, after political leaders condemned a Nairobi court ruling calling for the arrest of Sudan's president.

Last week the Kenyan court ordered the government to arrest President Omar al-Bashir if he sets foot in Kenya, and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague where he is wanted on genocide charges.

The decision, which came more than a year after Kenya failed to arrest Bashir during a visit, led Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula to call it a "judgment in error". He vowed to appeal the court order and flew to Khartoum to contain the fallout.

The row comes as Kenya awaits a decision by the ICC on whether to confirm charges of crimes against humanity against six high-profile Kenyans, including two contenders in next year's elections.

"I have a feeling people need to get used to the new system. You have a new system with suppression of powers, an independent judiciary, executive and legislature, and it's new," Annan told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on national dialogue and reconcilation late on Tuesday.

"And so when the court asserts its independence, some people who are used to the old way of doing business still think it's business as usual ... I don't think you can mix law, diplomacy, politics," said Annan, who mediated an end to violence that left 1,220 people dead after Kenya's December 2007 election.



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