After lavish celebrations to mark its 50th anniversary on Saturday, the 54-member African Union was set to come together to condemn International Criminal Court (ICC) trials against one of its own, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and his vice president.
“We will be approving this morning what the ministers have proposed, definitely,” AU security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told AFP, referring to a draft resolution agreed Friday by foreign ministers.
The resolution calls for the ICC to refer back to Kenya the cases against Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto.
Kenyatta and Ruto, elected in March, both face a crimes against humanity trials in The Hague for their alleged roles in orchestrating deadly violence after previous elections in 2007 that left 1,100 people dead.
African leaders will call for the “termination of the ICC process… jurisdictions in Kenya will have to take care of the situation,” Lamamra said.
“Africa is committed to fighting impunity, but fighting impunity is not exclusive through the ICC,” he said.
The proposal would have no legal impact on ICC proceedings if passed, but would significantly boost Kenyatta’s standing on the continent.
“Heads of state will support what the ministers have proposed,” Lamamra added, speaking on the sidelines of the meeting at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, where leaders are expected to endorse the proposal before they close their two-day summit later Monday.
Leaders have also been discussing conflict on the continent, including in volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Islamist threats in Somalia, Mali and the Sahel region, and wider global security concerns.
“African security is inextricably linked to international security,” Lamamra said.
Today’s AU is the successor of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established in 1963 in the heady days when independence from colonial rule was sweeping the continent.
The move against the ICC would be first time the pan-African body has moved formally against the international court, even though Kenyatta is the second African leader to face trial, after genocide charges were brought against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, in a speech to the AU, said that while tackling impunity was “an important step toward sustainable peace and security”, the ICC is biased.
“International criminal justice needs to be free of political interference and to uphold the principle of sovereign equality of states, an objective Rwanda believes the ICC has completely failed to accomplish,” he said in a speech.