KENYA INVITING BASHIR WAS WRONG

I am not a fan of Sudan president Omar al-Bashir, who is currently under indictment for war crimes, and I wish him bad luck. If I had my way, I would ensure that Bashir's crops don't flourish; his cows don't multiply; that his children run amok; his wives desert him; and that he would spend sleepless nights tormented by nightmares over the thousands of people killed in Darfur. That said, I still find the furore over his attendance at the launch of the new Kenya constitution last week amusing. In the barrage of criticism the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr Thuita Mwangi sounded eerily lonely when, in an opinion article "Kenya was perfectly right to invite Sudan President Omar al-Bashir", (Daily Nation, August 30, 2010) he defended the presence of the awkward guest from the north. "Kenya has remained seized with Sudan, supporting the process that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as well as its implementation", he wrote. However, if you follow events in our wider Eastern African region closely (as your columnist sometimes does), you would have realised that Mwangi's words were not very original. They had been used just four months back by another diplomat. This time, an American one. On May 27 this year, the US sent a consulate officer as a representative to the inauguration of the same controversial Bashir. When asked by journalists whether sending someone at all gave support to Bashir, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley defended the action, saying the US had work to do in Sudan as it "pressed for full implementation of a fragile 2005 peace" deal. Almost exactly Mwangi's words. So you would think US President Barack Obama's government and Kenya's agree that for the sake of peace, it is worth holding one's nose and doing business with Bashir. On May 27 this year, the US sent a consulate officer as a representative to the inauguration of the same controversial Bashir. When asked by journalists whether sending someone at all gave support to Bashir, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley defended the action, saying the US had work to do in Sudan as it "pressed for full implementation of a fragile 2005 peace" deal. Almost exactly Mwangi's words. So you would think US President Barack Obama's government and Kenya's agree that for the sake of peace, it is worth holding one's nose and doing business with Bashir. Wrong. Obama issued a statement, which read in part; "I am disappointed that Kenya hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in defiance of International Criminal Court arrest warrants for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide". Someone pinch me please. The Bashir issue throws up some peculiar facts about how the world deals with suspected mass murderers. Consider the following: The US Senate voted a juicy $50 million (KSh4bn) reward for the capture of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. Osama's main crime is that he was behind the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001 in which 3,000 people were killed

. Then America invaded Iraq in 2003 and ousted the country's dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam went into hiding. The US put a $25 million (KSh2bn) bounty on him. He was captured and tried in Iraq, where he was strung at the end of a rope on December 30, 2006. Saddam is alleged to have killed at least one million Iraqis. In 1998 Serbian warlord Radovan Karadzic went into hiding with a $5 million (KSh400m) bounty on his head. Karadzic, who is now being tried at The Hague, is blamed for ordering the death of over 100,000 people, mostly Bosnian Muslims. He was captured by accident in July 2008. Then comes Liberia former warlord president Charles Taylor, who probably lives on the same block at The Hague as Karadzic. The prize for the capture of Taylor was $2 million (KSh160m). The blood of about 350,000 people has been blamed on Taylor's hands. So far there is not a single dollar on Bashir's head. Bashir is in hot soup over the death of, according to some accounts, 300,000 people in the western region of Darfur. Now let us do the maths. At $50m for 3,000 deaths, the value of every American taken by Osama's warriors is $16,700. At $5m for Karadzic's 100,000, the value of a Bosnian's life is $50. At $25m for Saddam's one million, the value of an Iraqi's life is $25 each. For $2m against Taylor's 350,000, the price of a Liberian's life comes in at $5.8 each. For Bashir's 300,000 at $0, the life of a Sudanese Darfurian is worth $0. Nothing. What am I missing here?

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