Kenya-Sudan spat over Bashir warrant resolved: minister

AFP , Friday 2 Dec 2011

Kenya has normalised relations with Sudan after Khartoum reversed its decision to expel the Kenyan ambassador over a Nairobi court ruling ordering the arrest of the Sudanese president

Relations between Nairobi and Khartoum are "back to normal" after a bitter spat resulting from an arrest warrant issued for the Sudanese leader, Kenya's foreign minister said Friday.

A Kenyan judge issued a warrant for the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Monday after the government failed to execute an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant when he visited Nairobi last year.

The move triggered a furious response from Khartoum, who pulled out their representative in Nairobi, and ordered Kenya's ambassador to leave within 72 hours, prompting Kenya to send a high-level delegation to heal the rift.

"Sudan had set up a number of reprisals against Kenya, which could have affected our economy greatly... but during our talks we managed to stop that," Moses Wetangula said after returning to Nairobi from Khartoum.

"So our relations are back to normal, and our ambassador is not leaving," he said, adding that Sudan's ambassador would return to Nairobi.

Bashir had "ordered all flights from Kenya not to fly in Sudan airspace, regardless of whichever airline they were coming from" said Wetangula.

Sudan had also ordered the expulsion of Kenyan peacekeepers serving in the UN-African Union mission in the war-torn western Darfur region, as well as 500 Kenyan students.

Bashir is wanted in The Hague-based ICC for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur, where the UN says at least 300,000 people have been killed in the eight-year conflict.

Bashir, 67, is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC and also the first to be charged with genocide.

Kenya has ratified the ICC's founding Rome statute, which theoretically obliges it to execute the court's warrants.

Despite that, Wetangula said the Kenyan government would appeal against the warrant issued by its own courts

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