KIGALI - The government has strongly backed the recent invitation by Kenya to Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to attend the promulgation ceremony of the recently passed Constitution despite a warrant having been issued for his arrest.
Bashir has two arrest warrants issued against him by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan.
“Rwanda totally supports the position of the sister nation, Kenya and the presence of Bashir in Kenya. We need to look at the larger issue of universal jurisdiction and ICC in relation to Africa and Africans in particular,” Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in a press conference on Monday.
Mushikiwabo, who is also the Government Spokesperson, had called the press conference to clarify the government’s position on the recently leaked UN report accusing Rwandan troops of committing atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1994 to 2003.
She stressed that the AU has already requested that issues to do with universal jurisdiction, under whose auspices Bashir is being indicted, be examined and agreed upon with respect to Africans “but that issue has not been resolved.”
“As far as my government is concerned, this has nothing to do with whether Bashir is innocent or guilty of the crimes he is accused of; it is about Africans getting the respect they deserve. ICC is a good instrument. We are not against it but against only Africans being targeted”.
Mushikiwabo said Kenya has been involved, as a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in bringing peace and stability to Sudan, “and that involves talking to and engaging President Bashir”.
“Justice doesn’t walk in a vacuum. Justice is to bring order and not to create chaos to satisfy the international community. Kenya is [involved] in efforts to stabilize Sudan. Rwanda supports the AU decision on the ICC”.
Experts blame the ICC for applying double standards on Africa, especially since the court’s five active investigations are all within Africa.
The AU recently reiterated its position, saying that Kenya was acting within its rights when it invited President Al-Bashir.
According to a statement from the continental body, African countries would not arrest and surrender Bashir to the ICC even though an arrest warrant was issued against him.