Talk to us, not African Union says ICC

January 27, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27- The President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Christian Wenawaser, on Thursday said he was opposed to Kenya\’s attempts to have The Hague trials deferred through the African Union.

Ambassador Wenawaser challenged Kenya to engage the ICC directly through the laid down deferral procedures rather than go through the AU and the United Nations Security Council, if indeed there were  serious efforts to establish a local judicial mechanism.

"If the intent is to establish national proceedings in Kenya that is, in principle, something that we would support; but in order to do that, we would like to see the Kenyan government go to (the ICC) court because it is something that can be discussed with the court," he said.

The Ambassador, who jetted into the country on Thursday morning after concluding a three-day visit to Addis Ababa ahead of the 16th African Union summit, also expressed his frustration at securing appointments with senior State officials.

By Thursday afternoon he was still trying to secure a joint audience with government officials from both sides of the coalition.  He was later understood to have met Lands Minister James Orengo who is a member of the Cabinet committee on the ICC.

"As you know I\’m here for two days and we will have a press conference at the end of my visit. But for now I will continue my visit with government contacts and civil societies. Right now my meetings with government are still a work in progress," he said.

Ambassador Wenawaser who spoke after meeting officials of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, added that he planned to communicate his objections to the deferral motion with the Kenyan government.

"I was very happy to be received by the commission. In particular we discussed the work of the ICC in Kenya of course because I had the same conversation with government officials in Addis Ababa and I will continue it here," he added.

His visit comes amid a political storm within the Cabinet after Prime Minister Raila Odinga differed with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka over the government\’s position on deferring the Kenyan case at the ICC.

Mr Musyoka said he was acting on the instructions of President Mwai Kibaki, who is scheduled to table a Motion before the AU this weekend, asking for its support in convincing the United Nations Security Council call for a deferral of the Kenyan case.

The VP has been leading efforts by the government to secure Africa\’s support in the deferral motion.

"I am not on a personal mission. I am going as a special envoy of the President of the Republic of Kenya.  Anybody thinking that the Vice President is on his own volition should be thus directed," Mr Musyoka said on Wednesday.

The PM however insisted that the lobbying was not sanctioned by the Cabinet.

While in Addis Ababa, Ambassador Wenawaser held discussions with the African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, Zachary Muburi-Muita, Head of the European Delegation to the African Union, Koen Vervaeke, among others.

He said that joint efforts by the international community to end impunity remained crucial for the advancement of peace, development and the protection of human rights. He also noted that the cooperation of state parties with the ICC was critical for the success of the said drive.

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