African leaders to urge ICC to drop Kenya trials

May 25, 2013 7:50 am
Shares

,

The resolution is expected to be decided upon by African leaders at the two-day summit of the 54-member bloc/FILE
The resolution is expected to be decided upon by African leaders at the two-day summit of the 54-member bloc/FILE
ADDIS ABABA, May 24 – African foreign ministers said on Friday they have agreed a draft proposal to urge international crimes against humanity trials for Kenya’s leaders to be referred back to their country.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, elected in March, both face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for their alleged roles in orchestrating deadly violence in 2007-8 following previous polls.

“The decision has been taken that we are going to request to the ICC to bring the case back to Kenya,” South Sudan’s foreign minister Nhial Deng Nhial told AFP.

He said the decision received “almost overwhelming support” from foreign ministers meeting ahead of an African Union summit that opens on Sunday in Ethiopia.

The resolution is expected to be decided upon by African leaders at the two-day summit of the 54-member bloc.

A draft version of the proposal seen by AFP puts forward a “request of a referral” of the Kenya trials “to allow for a national mechanism to investigate and prosecute the cases”.

Kenyatta’s trial is due to open on July 9, while a date for Ruto’s trial is expected to be set later this month.

The United Nations Security Council can ask for a case to be deferred for a year, it does not have the authority to order that the ICC drop a case completely.

Both Kenyatta and Ruto deny the charges, but have agreed to cooperate fully with the ICC.

Nhial said he expected the proposal to be passed, adding that the decision made Thursday “reaffirmed” Africa’s position regarding the ICC.

“It seems that this thing has been meant for African leaders, that they have to be humiliated,” Kiir told reporters. “We will never accept it.”

Many African leaders, as well as the AU as a body, have claimed the ICC unfairly targets Africans, while ignoring war crimes suspects in other parts of the world.

Some 1,100 people died in bloodshed after the disputed 2007 elections, shattering Kenya’s image as a beacon of regional stability.

What began as political riots quickly turned into ethnic killings and reprisal attacks, plunging Kenya into its worst wave of violence since independence in 1963.

The move follows a series of comments by Kenya’s neighbours in opposition to the ICC.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, speaking Thursday after Kenyatta visited Juba on his way to the AU summit, said he condemned the ICC, despite many in South Sudan supporting the court when it indicted their former foe, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

“It seems that this thing has been meant for African leaders, that they have to be humiliated,” Kiir told reporters. “We will never accept it.”

In April, speaking at Kenyatta’s swearing in as president, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni accused “arrogant actors” of using the ICC to “install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like.”

Shares

Latest Articles

Most Viewed