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ICC bid at UN Security Council no easy task

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – Three diplomats accredited to Kenya have separately warned the government against seeking a deferral of cases at the International Criminal Court saying it will be difficult to convince the United Nations Security Council to endorse it.

The three told Capital News in interviews that Kenya would have to give definite evidence indicating that if the ICC process went on as scheduled, it would threaten national peace and stability.

On her part, Dutch Ambassador Laetitia van den Assum, said that the country would also have to prove to the Security Council that a local judicial mechanism equal to that of the ICC had been set up.

"If you go to the Security Council and ask them for a deferral, your only chance of being successful is when you are able to prove to the Council members that in Kenya there is a serious security threat. And that is not an issue at the moment; I hope one will not develop," Ms Assum said.

She added that the differences in the grand coalition, surrounding the ICC process, would further reduce chances of the Security Council supporting the Motion. She argued that Kenya required unity of purpose to convince the UN body.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has time and again said that he does not support the deferral Motion while President Mwai Kibaki is pushing for it.

"On the one hand you see the Vice President travelling around Africa seeking support for the deferral and then you hear that he is only doing that for one part of the government; that is very surprising," she said.

She instead urged Kenya to focus on preparing a strong defence for the six persons wanted by the ICC.

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"They are innocent until proven guilty so the best thing they can do about it at the moment is to prepare a proper defence but not to try and go for a deferral Motion; it won\’t help," she argued.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Rob Macaire also maintained his stand against the deferral Motion saying Kenya should separate local politics from the processes of the ICC.

The High Commissioner argued that the move would only serve to undermine the country\’s reform agenda and further asked the government to set up a local judicial system that would try the other perpetrators of the post election violence, who are not targeted by the ICC.

"If Kenya had such a system in place, then she would be at liberty to go to the ICC and say she has the jurisdiction to take the matter back to Kenya. It\’s that application to the ICC that would seem logical to us. But Kenyans want to see justice done," he said.

He also pointed out that Kenya could only defer the ICC process for a maximum of one year.

Britain is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and would be required to vote on the deferral motion once it was presented.

"The mandate of the Security Council is to deal with issues of international peace and security while that of the ICC is to deal with criminal cases. So one of the things that they would have to consider would be whether this is a threat to national security," he explained.

American Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said that the US supported the ICC process to counter incessant impunity in the country. He however noted with concern that the process had taken a political turn which was unwarranted.

"We think that moving ahead with the ICC process is essential to ensuring accountability and we want to see the process move forward expeditiously. This is not the time to be talking about ethnic alliances; I think it\’s deplorable," he charged.

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The US is also a permanent member of the Security Council.  Others are China, Russia and France. Each of these countries has the power to veto any substantive resolution. That means that if one of the five permanent members does not support Kenya\’s ICC deferral Motion, but the rest did, the whole application would be dismissed.

So far China has used its veto six times, France 18 times, the UK 32 times, the US 82 times and Russia 123 times.

China has already indicated its intention to support Kenya\’s motion arguing that it is a sovereign state.

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