By Ray Fleming

WHY is there almost always a fly in the ointment where African affairs are concerned? Yesterday the people of Kenya rightly celebrated the signing of their new constitution which promises widespread reforms in the way the country is run and guarantees human rights that were not enjoyed under the previous constitution drawn up by the British colonial rulers and independence politicians nearly fifty years ago. Yesterday's event was a double triumph, a constitution born out of appalling tribal violence after flawed elections in 2007 and strongly endorsed by the people last month.

Unfortunately, however, what should have been an unquestionable success for Kenya was spoiled by the presence of one man -- Omar al-Bashr, the president of Sudan, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur. Kenya is a signatory of the ICC treaty and is thereby legally bound to arrest any person charged by the Court. But al-Bashr was invited to attend yesterday's ceremonies by the Kenyan government which said in advance that it would take no steps to arrest him.The matter is complicated by the fact that the ICC is expected shortly to make charges against Kenyan politicians and others who were responsible for the deaths of 1'000 people during the violence in 2007. Kenya is one the few African ICC members but if it does does not want to support the Court it should quit. It cannot have it both ways.


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