, ARUSHA, Apr 28 – President Mwai Kibaki on Saturday lead East Africa Community (EAC) leaders in a resolution to empower a regional court to try crimes against humanity, in what is seen as a fresh bid to have local trials for four Kenyans facing charges in The Hague.
In a communiqué read by EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera, the 10th Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State welcomed the resolution to extend jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) and directed the Council of Ministers to consider the matter by the end of May 2012 and report to an Extraordinary Summit to be convened immediately thereafter.
On Thursday, the East African Legislative Assembly unanimously endorsed and adopted a Motion urging the East African Community presidents to call for the transfer of the Kenya Post Election Violence cases to the EACJ from The Hague.
The regional assembly passed the resolution seeking to have the cases against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former Head of Civil Service Muthaura, radio journalist Joshua Sang and Eldoret North MP William Ruto referred to Arusha under the auspices of the EACJ.
On Tuesday, during his State of the Nation address, President Kibaki urged Kenyans to maintain calm as the government continued working to ensure the ICC cases are handled through a local mechanism.
Other interventions to bring the cases back home include attempts by the accused to collect five million signatures to defer the cases, which the ICC rubbished saying it would not serve as a basis for stopping the process.
This week, the International criminal Court Trial Chamber V elected Justice Kuniko Ozaki to preside over the Kenyan cases.
In an announcement published on the ICC website, Justice Ozaki will lead Christine Van den Wyngaert and Chile Eboe-Osuji at the trial stage expected to start at any time.
Saturday’s EAC summit also reviewed the security situation in the East African region and expressed concern over the ongoing conflict between the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan and urged the leaders of the two countries to return to the negotiating table and find peaceful means of resolving all the outstanding issues in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The summit directed the council to initiate its operationalization and report progress at the 14th summit later in November.
During the summit, the Heads of State signed the East African Community Protocol on Co-operation in Defence and directed that the protocol be ratified and instruments of ratification deposited with the Secretary General by 30th November 2012.
(Lordrick Mayabi contributed to this report)