, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23 – Kenyan lawmakers have passed a motion urging the government to withdraw from the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The move by Parliament is an attempt to block proceedings against six prominent Kenyans who were named by the ICC last week and face charges of crimes against humanity over 2007-8 post-election violence.
"This house resolves that… the government takes appropriate action to withdraw from the Rome Statute," read the motion, which was overwhelmingly approved by acclamation late Wednesday.
The motion came exactly a week after the world court\’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, revealed the names of the six for whom he requested summonses over their role in the violence that tore Kenya apart three years ago.
Among them are key political figures such as Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also a deputy prime minister and the son of the country\’s founding president.
If ICC judges accept Ocampo\’s evidence against the six as sufficient, they can issue summonses.
If the suspects do not voluntarily present themselves in The Hague, arrest warrants can then be issued. As a signatory of the Rome Statute establishing the court, Kenya would be under the obligation to arrest them.
Several leading members of parliament rose to defend the motion on Wednesday, arguing that the ICC case was a manifestation of Western imperialism.
"It is only Africans from former colonies who are being tried at the ICC. No American or British will be tried at the ICC and we should not willingly allow ourselves to return to colonialism," Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said.
The motion argued that the new constitution adopted by Kenya in August obviated the need for the masterminds of the post-election violence to be tried by a foreign court.
It demanded "that any criminal investigations or prosecutions arising out of the post-election violence of 2007-8 be undertaken under the framework of the new constitution."
Around 1,500 people were killed in the aftermath of the disputed December 2007 presidential poll and hundreds of thousands were displaced.
Trade Minister Chirau Mwakwere urged other African nations to withdraw from the Rome Statute and said he felt ashamed to have been among the officials who signed it in 2005, when he was foreign minister.