Dispute Tests Kenya Judiciary Reforms

Manila Bulletin, December 13, 2011 | Go to article overview

Dispute Tests Kenya Judiciary Reforms


NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) -- The Kenyan government's appeal against a court order to arrest Sudan's president on international war crimes charges has strained the ruling coalition and will measure the judiciary's success in shaking off decades of political interference.

A Nairobi court ordered the government to carry out an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir if he sets foot in Kenya, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The ICC has charged Bashir with masterminding genocide and other war crimes during his country's Darfur conflict, accusations Khartoum dismisses.

Kenya was criticized by the ICC and the West for failing to arrest Bashir when he attended a ceremony to enact the east African country's new constitution in August last year.

The Kenyan government has said repeatedly that it will cooperate fully with the ICC but the court ruling took the government by surprise and sowed discord in the shaky coalition formed to quell 2007 post-election violence.

"In the past it would have been inconceivable that the judiciary would have made a ruling that was so clearly contrary to the government policy," said London-based Patrick Mair, a Kenya analyst at Control Risks.

Analysts say the invitation to Bashir was a hint to The Hague-based court that Nairobi was unhappy with its probe of six high-profile Kenyans. …

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