The inauguration of Kenya’s fourth President looms, and the signs are not promising for the ICC.
The Kenyan media have reported a great deal on the witness problems that the Prosecutor has supposedly been facing. The OTP has responded by condemning ‘sensationalist reports’ about witnesses cooperation.
Meanwhile, the credibility of the ICC with a large segment of the Kenyan public hangs in the balance as the flawed narrative that the Prosecutions were cooked up by local politicians to ‘fix’ Uhuruto remains deeply entrenched.
This has created a golden opportunity for associates of the accused to proceed with the debasement of the international criminal process. The latest report (allegedly sourced from a Sudanese newspaper) is that fugitive President Omar Al Bashir will attend the inauguration. This has not yet been confirmed by Kenyan Authorities, but given the secrecy that surrounded his last ‘surprise’ visit to Kenya in 2010, such a confirmation is unlikely. An Kenyan arrest warrant against the President remains in force (although there is a pending appeal against the High Court judgement that resulted in the warrant). The Kenyan warrant was issued after Al Bashir attended the Promulgation of the 2010 Constitution- that time, Kenya failed to abide by its treaty obligation pursuant to an ICC decision that required member states to deliver Al Bashir to the Hague if he enters their jurisdictions. How the ICC defendants (Ruto and Kenyatta) handle relations with the Sudanese President will be seen as a litmus test for their promised adherence to the ICC Rome Statute. Since arresting a sitting President is fraught with diplomatic peril, the two inaugurees should therefore make it clear to the organising committee that the Sudanese President would be less than welcome on this particular day.
Their supporters and associates will no doubt fall back on the argument that the South Sudan peace process depends on keeping relations with Khartoum sweet. The argument grows weaker each passing year as South Sudan’s embrace of statehood grows tighter (the final exchange of citizens between the two countries will soon conclude) and Sudan’s power over the destiny of it’s Southern neighbour diminishes. Even though there have been the border clashes and oil revenue stand-offs between the two Sudans after the South’s independence, these only serve to painfully reveal that peace between North and South depends upon good faith between Khartoum and Juba, not good relations with Nairobi.
By the way, it’s so easy to forget the third remaining defendant, Joshua Sang: perhaps he is quietly ruing the last minute support he threw in for Raila Odinga.
Update 09 April 2013: It appears that President Al Bashir decided to skip the inauguration ceremony after all. It still worrying that, according to the Government Spokesman, Al Bashir was in fact invited by the Committee for the Assumption of the Office of President.