Two fingers up to the ICC

So, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was in Chad recently. No big deal. Everyone expected that was going to happen. Al-Bashir and Debby Idriss are best of buddies, really, despite what everyone thinks, and the country’s intractable desire to launch rebel attacks at one another’s capitals. They’re just playing, really, like boys with toy soldiers that make up afterwards. And besides, Chad, one of the poorest countries on Earth, has always been a bit of a vagrant – the fact that they don’t want to play by the rules, and send al-Bashir off to The Hague as they are obliged to do under the terms of the Rome Statute, which they signed, comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever.

Now, Kenya is quite a different matter.

Today, President Omar al-Bashir, quite estonishingly, turned up in Nairoibi to witness the signing of the new constitution there.

How he managed to wangle that one is anybody’s guess. Perhaps a more pertinent question would be: what on Earth is Nairobi playing at?

For some months now, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, ICC chief prosecutor, has been harping on about how he’s going to wrap up his investigation into the Kenyan violence of 2007/2008 by October. That’s in just over a month’s time, folks.

And now we have the Kenyan government (which will almost certainly be implicated in Moreno-Ocampo’s investigation) openly inviting al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes and general genocidal tendancies, to the country. Under the Rome Statute, which they have signed, they should arrest him.

When I was in Eldoret, in western Kenya, a few months ago, I met a courageous rape victim, who implored me, “tell Moreno-Ocampo not to talk to the government, they’ll only cheat him”. One might consider these words from somewhere who has been through a tremendous amount, but doesn’t understand the fundamental machinations of the ICC.

But, on the other hand, look at what Nairobi’s doing now. It’s as if they don’t care. They are basically sticking two fingers up to the ICC and saying, “screw you, we’re not going to respect the treaty we’ve signed up to, and you’re certainly not going to be allowed to come anywhere near the top with your meddling.”

It kind of makes a mockery of the whole thing.

But, having just ready the truly excellent It’s Our Turn to Eat by Michele Wrong, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at all. It gels exactly with what she was telling her readership about the way that Kenyan government works.

Moreno-Ocampo may think that he can beat the wiley old coots in State House, but it’s starting to look doubtful that he can.


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