Kenya court refuses to shelve ruling on Sudan's Bashir
Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:22pm GMT
* Move likely to raise tensions between Sudan and Kenya
* Government reaction signal to own ICC case (Adds details, background)
By Humphrey Malalo
NAIROBI, Dec 20 (Reuters) - A Kenyan appeal court refused on Tuesday to set
aside a ruling ordering the government to arrest Sudan's president if he
visits, a decision likely to worsen relations between Nairobi and Khartoum.
Kenya's government has scrambled to contain the fallout from the High
Court's ruling earlier this month, which said the state must arrest Omar
al-Bashir on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) if
he sets foot in Kenya.
Nairobi is keen to keep its friends in the region at a time when its troops
are fighting in neighbouring Somalia, and also has its own tricky issues
with the ICC, which is deciding whether to try Kenyans over violence after a
The Kenyan foreign minister has called the High Court's order an error in
judgment, visited the Sudanese leader in Khartoum and vowed to appeal the
The government sought to have the order to arrest Bashir shelved pending its
appeal, but Tuesday's decision means the High Court order remains in place
until the appeal itself is heard.
"We are not convinced the reasons given by the deputy solicitor general are
sufficient to grant a stay. The application for interim stay is refused,"
Justice Emmanuel Okubasu told reporters.
Bashir gave Kenya a two week ultimatum to take steps to overturn the ruling
and threatened punitive measures if Nairobi failed to comply. That deadline
expired late last week.
Kenya's High Court ruling came more than a year after Kenya failed to arrest
Bashir during a visit, sparking criticism by the ICC and the West.
Although Nairobi has repeatedly said it would cooperate fully with the ICC,
the High Court ruling took the government by surprise at a time it awaits a
decision by The Hague-based tribunal on whether it will try six high-profile
Kenyans suspected of masterminding violence after a 2007 election.
The government's aggressive move against the court decision may be an
indication of how it would react should its own ICC suspects, two of whom
are presidential contenders, be issued with arrest warrants by The
The showdown between the government and courts is also seen as a test of
whether the judiciary will be able to maintain its independence and shake
off decades of political interference.
A Kenyan government spokesman declined to comment and said he was waiting
for an explanation of the ruling from the Attorney General's office. The
justice minister, who was against the government's appeal, was not
immediately available for comment.
Kenya, which is hoping to secure the backing of regional neighbours after it
sent troops into Somalia to pursue Islamist rebels, has tried to avoid an
escalation in tension with Khartoum, with which it shares important trade
Bashir had threatened trade cuts, stopping flights to Kenya from going over
Sudanese airspace - a route generally used for Europe-bound flights - as
well as the expulsion of Kenyan nationals from Sudan.
Kenya has come under persistent pressure at home and abroad to arrest
Bashir. As an ICC member state, Kenya is obliged by treaty to cooperate with
the court and its arrest warrants. But the African Union has said its member
states will respect immunity for Bashir.
The dispute has also put strains on Kenya's ruling coalition, but has not
boiled over because former foes President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister
Raila Odinga have remained silent on the issue. (Writing by Yara Bayoumy)
South Sudan president visits Israel for first time
Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:47am GMT
* Illegal African migrants high on Israeli agenda
* Israel among first to recognise South Sudan
JERUSALEM Dec 20 (Reuters) - Israel hosted on Tuesday the leader of its
newest ally in Africa, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, which was
recognised by the Jewish state hours after it declared independence in July.
Israeli government officials declined to give details about the low-key,
one-day visit, which political sources said was likely to focus on illegal
African migration to Israel.
Kiir met Israeli President Shimon Peres and toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust
memorial in Jerusalem ahead of talks later in the day with Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defence Minister
This month Israel approved a $167 million plan to try to stem the flow of
African migrants who cross into the country through its porous border with
Egypt. Government figures put the number of illegal workers in Israel at
Netanyahu said he would visit Africa early next year where among other
issues he will discuss the repatriation of migrants. South Sudan is thought
to be one of his possible destinations but details of the trip have not yet
Many of the migrants come from Eritrea and Sudan and cross into Israel from
Egypt's Sinai desert. Israel is building a fence along the porous frontier
to try to block the migrants and prevent infiltration by Islamist militants.
South Sudan, where most people follow Christian and traditional African
beliefs, declared independence on July 10 in line with a referendum that was
the culmination of a 2005 peace deal ending decades of civil war with the
Israel has no relations with the mainly Arab Muslim north. (Writing by Ori
Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams)
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Received on Tue Dec 20 2011 - 12:43:33 EST