Sudan presidential visit `in our interest`: Kenya

Sudan Prez is wanted by ICC for allegedly masterminding genocide in Darfur.

Updated: Aug 30, 2010, 09:28 AM IST

Nairobi: Kenya`s government on Sunday defended its recent failure to arrest Sudan`s President on international charges of war crimes and genocide, citing Kenya`s strategic interest in the neighbouring country.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka said that arresting President Omar al-Bashir during his recent visit to Kenya may have adversely affected peace in Sudan.

"Apart from being an immediate neighbour, Sudan`s stability is vitally linked to Kenya`s continued peace and well being," he said.

Kenya drew international criticism for inviting al-Bashir to witness the signing of Kenya`s new Constitution on Friday.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for allegedly masterminding the genocide in Sudan`s Darfur region.

Sudan is preparing for a major referendum next year in which the south may secede. A 2005 peace agreement established a power-sharing government aimed at ending four decades of on-and-off war between Sudan`s north and south. The agreement also called for the independence referendum. But negotiations have barely begun and tensions are rising.