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29 parties oppose ICC deferral

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – Twenty nine political parties have registered their disapproval with attempts to lobby the United Nations Security Council for a deferral of the Kenya case before the International Criminal Court.

The political parties forum which brings together Safina, the National Alliance Party of Kenya, New Ford Kenya, People\’s Party of Kenya, Democratic Party and the Shirikisho Party of Kenya among others, said the deferral motion would encourage impunity and derail the country\’s reform agenda.

The group\’s vice chairperson Ben Muema said Kenya should allow the ICC process to go through, without undermining it, in order to sustain her international standing.

"The threshold of proof at the Security Council is very high. Kenya will have to give evidence that there will be a threat to international security if the ICC process goes ahead. And if Sudan did not succeed in the same, then we will have an uphill task in doing the same," he said.

He asked Kenya to instead establish a local tribunal, which meets international standards, to complement the ICC process.

The group also called on the government to expedite electoral and police reforms saying the move would help prevent a repeat of the post election chaos.

"People who were displaced from their property and those whose property is illegally occupied should be compensated. It\’s painful to see someone living in your land while you live in a tent and peace can only be brought through justice," he said.

Mr Muema also expressed concern with the squabbles in the coalition government saying the two principals should not publicly expose any differences between them.

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"We also urge government to speak in one voice because every time the top leadership disagrees, ripples go all the way to the villages and people feel insecure. We don\’t want this to continue; we need to change the way we do things," he said.

The politicians also proposed that the civil societies and the media educate Kenyans on the mechanisms of the ICC. They said that civic education on the process would ensure that peace and unity were upheld.

"This will help ensure an informed public discourse and also enhance national cohesion so as to prevent polarisation of the country," argued Mr Muema.

The plans by government to lobby for a deferral of the ICC case have met sharp criticism from various civil societies among them the Kenya Human Rights Commission which also argues that the move will promote impunity.

While President Mwai Kibaki and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka support the deferral motion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga does not.  He has said that those behind the violence should all be held to account to prevent a repeat of the violence.

Various heads of mission have also warned the government against the move.

Kenya will have to convince the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that the ICC process will threaten international peace and stability if allowed to proceed.

For any substantive resolution to be made, all the five members, which include China, Russia, the UK, the US and France, have to support it. If any of these countries declines to support Kenya\’s plans the application will be thrown out.

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