Civil society to challenge ICC deferral

January 18, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – Civil society groups are now planning to counter government efforts for a deferral of the case against six Kenyan suspects by the International Criminal Court, saying the move will undermine efforts to fight impunity in the country.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, the chairman of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy Larry Gumbe said subverting the ICC process was retrogressive and a slap in the face of Kenyans who voted in the new Constitution.

He explained that the civil society in Kenya would work together with other non-governmental organisations across Africa to make their stand known at the upcoming African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa.

"We will also meet with Tanzania\’s CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) and CHADEMA (Chama Cha Maendeleo na Demokrasia) and South Africa\’s African National Congress to make sure that these plans fail," he said.

The watchdog criticised recent lobbying by a host of cabinet ministers led by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka across Africa for the deferral, saying it negated Kenya\’s quest for reforms.

The VP is scheduled to leave the country for Malawi on Wednesday on the second leg of the lobbying.  His initial crusade trip took him to South African and Uganda.

"Whose money is he using? Who sent him? We as Kenyans were not consulted before the government embarked on this mission. These people need to remember that their politics also affect Kenyans," he quipped.

CMD Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi added that the civil society would also collect one million signatures from Kenyans, beginning Tuesday, to ensure that parliamentarians did not pass the Bill that would legislate Kenya\’s withdrawal from the ICC.

"We will do everything that we can to stop the process. We can recall all our MPs for doing things against our will because we elected them to guide and protect us yet they are doing the opposite for Kenyans," she said.

Prof Gumbe also said that Kenya did not have any moral standing to lead the peace talks in Cote d\’Ivoire, given the recent moves to undermine the ICC process.

"We cannot be helping others to avoid impunity when we ourselves try to pull out of the ICC. What moral ground can we stand on as we try to help them? We should not let persons who have been indicted get off the hook," he said.

The civil society also threatened to take legal action against any persons who formed tribal or social alliances in the run up to the upcoming general election.

While making reference to the KKK coalition, Prof Gumbe argued that politicians should only lobby for their political manifestos and not engage in tactics that will polarise the country along ethnic lines.

He also called on the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to step in and hold such persons to account.

"The NCIC should take up this issue and prosecute these individuals but if they fail we will prosecute them; we will hold them to account the same way Moreno-Ocampo is holding the others to account. They have made these statements in public and we have the records," he claimed.

Prof Gumbe added that the Registrar of Political Parties should ensure that politicians adhere to the Political Parties Act which bars such unions.

"What do tribal ideologies offer people? I mean what is the tribal position on building railways or education and health policies? They are just schemes to protect people and whip up divisions in our country," he said.

The lobbyists also warned Kenyans against politicising the war on graft saying such efforts were retrogressive. "Corruption cases must be expeditiously tackled. Suspects should not hide behind their tribes or political parties because their crimes were individual."

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