, ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan 31 – President Mwai Kibaki has thanked the African Union for supporting Kenya\’s position that the International Criminal Court (ICC) proceedings be deferred.
President Kibaki appreciated the AU\’s understanding and overwhelming support on the matter, saying the move would restore Kenya\’s and Africa\’s dignity and sovereignty.
"I have noted with appreciation the report of the Executive Council on this matter as well as the support for our request for deferment of the ICC proceedings in line with Article 16 of the Rome Statute, and wish to reaffirm this request by my country," President Kibaki said.
The President made the remarks when he addressed the 16th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The request had earlier received the support of council of Minister and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The AU endorsement followed a series of diplomatic lobbying missions of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka across the continent.
Saying Kenya is going through a historic transformation based on a strong desire to ensure justice for all, particularly the victims of the post-election violence, President Kibaki pointed out that the government had fully cooperated with the International Criminal Court investigations that commenced in early 2010.
The Head of State however said his government was also aware that the primary responsibility in exercising criminal jurisdiction lay with the State.
"This is why the government is preparing the ground for local trials of those responsible for all post election crimes," President Kibaki said.
In this regard, the President emphasised that the government had embarked on reforms of key national institutions of governance including the police, the judiciary and the state law office among others.
President Kibaki at the same time said Kenya was fully committed to the theme of this year\’s AU Summit on shared values and principles of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which is demonstrated by the adoption of a new constitution by majority of Kenyans last August that entrenches democracy the rule of law, social justice and equity.
Said President Kibaki: "The constitution offers new opportunities to enhance national cohesion and provides devolution of power and popular participation in governance. My country attaches great significance to these values."
The President reiterated that the protection and advancement of human rights on the continent was equally important for Kenya, adding that the new constitution of Kenya contains an elaborate bill of rights, including socio and economic rights.
Noting that the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance to which Kenya is a signatory commits member states to observe the rule of law, respect human rights and promote democratic governance, President Kibaki observed that these values are the cornerstones for peace and development.
The Head of State said Kenya recognizes that democracy and development can only be realized if there is respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance.