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Bashir might attend Kenyatta's swearing in

09 April 2013, 11:01 Omondi Oloo

Nairobi - Kenyan authorities and civil society are divided over the invitation extended to Sudanese strongman Omar Al Bashir to Tuesday’s swearing-in of President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta. 

Civil society and a section of government want Bashir to either stay at home or to be arrested on arrival in Nairobi. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague for alleged crimes committed in the Darfur region. 

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Mwangi Thuita downplayed the matter, saying Bashir was yet to confirm attendance.   

But reports in the Sudanese media indicate Bashir will be attending the event alongside other African head of states. 

Fifty two African heads of states and government have been invited. South African President Jacob Zuma, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame have confirmed attendance. 

“President Zuma will be going to Kenya only for the purposes of the inauguration and will return immediately,” said South Africa's Presidential spokesperson, Mac Maharaj. 

On Monday, a newspaper in Sudan, Akbar al-Youm, said that from Nairobi, Bashir will go to Chad on Tuesday to attend the Green Belt conference. 

Civil society representatives in Nairobi said that should Bashir set foot in Nairobi, Kenyan authorities are obliged by the Rome Statute, of which the country is a signatory, to arrest and hand him over to the ICC. 

“We would want to clarify that Bashir’s attendance has not yet been confirmed,” said Mwangi as civil society congress leader James Onyango urged the Sudanese leader to stay at home. 

He said civil society would protest should Bashir visit.  In 2010, the United Nations Security Council protested when Kenya invited Bashir to the promulgation of its new constitution and failed to arrest him.

The UN said Kenya stood the risk of being declared a pariah state. 

Meanwhile, all is set for the swearing in at Nairobi’s Kasarani Sports Complex.

Head of Civil Service Franscis Kimemia confirmed that 60,000 people will attend the ceremony.  “We have laid out an elaborate plan to ensure things move smoothly,” Kimemia told journalists.  

- CAJ News

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