By Sudan Tribune,
The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir agreed to stay the expulsion of the Kenyan ambassador for only two weeks after which punitive measures will proceed.
In a statement released late on Friday night, Bashir is said to have made the decision following his meeting with Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula on Thursday with a letter from President Mwai Kibaki.
Kenya is trying to contain the row that erupted after a local high court judge ordered the government to arrest the Sudanese leader should he ever set foot in the country. The ruling also faulted the Kenyan government for failing to apprehend Bashir when he visited last year.
Following the judge’s decision this week, Sudan expelled the Kenyan ambassador and recalled back its own from Nairobi.
The Kenyan foreign minister said today in Nairobi that his visit helped reverse the expulsion and prevent other measures that were not publicly announced by Khartoum.
“Sudan had set out a raft of reprisals against Kenya that would have had a negative effect on our economy and country … We were able to stop these,” Wetangula said.
Wetangula said Kenya would also have lost a key market for its tea, coffee and other products if the row had continued. Sudan bought tea worth $200 million from Kenya last year, but its exports to Kenya were negligible, he added.
The Kenyan foreign minister said Bashir had ordered that all flights by any airline taking off or destined to Kenya would not be allowed to fly through Sudan’s air space.
Bashir also instructed all trade ties between Khartoum and Nairobi severed, and that all Kenyan nationals in Sudan – who he estimated at about 1,000 – be expelled immediately. The Sudanese president also ordered that all Kenyan troops serving in a United Nations peace force in Darfur be expelled from Sudan, said the minister.
But Sudan appeared to pour a cold shower on Wetangula’s remarks in their press release today asserting that the reversal is only temporary.
“The President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer al-Bashir decided to delay the expulsion of the Kenyan ambassador to Khartoum and recalling the Sudanese ambassador from Nairobi for two weeks, following his receiving yesterday evening of Kenyan Foreign Minister as an envoy of President Mwai Kibaki” said the statement.
“Bashir told the Kenyan presidential envoy that Sudan expects that the state opposes the Kenyan court’s decision itself because it is contrary to international and regional obligations and hurts its direct interests particularly with Sudan”.
The foreign Ministry said that “Sudan will wait for a period of two weeks to give an opportunity for Kenya’s effort to contain the issue and take the measures required, but will have no choice but to move forward in steps, which began by expelling the ambassador of Kenya and the withdrawal of its ambassador in Nairobi”.
Kenyan officials have slammed the High Court order and vowed to appeal.
However, foreign ministry sources told Sudan Tribune today that Bashir expects Nairobi to scrap the arrest warrant altogether within the next two weeks and not simply file an appeal.
The top diplomat in Kenya have appeared to challenge the court’s order saying that Bashir will lead Sudan’s delegation into Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit that could be held “in Kenya or elsewhere”.
But the Kenyan Chief justice Willy Mutunga issued a statement yesterday warning the government against any attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary.
“To choose not to obey court orders is to overthrow our Constitution. Court orders apply universally to ordinary citizens, corporations, members of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature. If a country chooses to live by anarchy, it must be ready to face the consequences of disregarding the law,” Mutunga said in a statement carried by Kenyan media.
“I urge all Kenyans and institutions of Government to adhere to the provisions of our institution and abide by the rule of law. The Constitution provides avenues to be followed where individuals or institutions are aggrieved by judicial decisions” he added.
“The Judiciary and its officers will not be intimidated to bend the law,” Mutunga warned.