, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – Kenyan lawmakers on Thursday debated whether the country should pull out of the International Criminal Court, in an angry snub to The Hague-based tribunal ahead of next week’s trial of Deputy President William Ruto.
Parliamentary majority leader Aden Duale said leaving the ICC would “redeem the image of Kenya” as he introduced the Motion “to suspend any links, cooperation and assistance” to the world court.
He also proposed a Bill to formalise a withdrawal within 30 days.
Should Kenya choose to leave the ICC – the first country potentially to do so – it will be more of a symbolic vote of defiance and would not affect upcoming trials of the east African nation’s leadership, since legal proceedings have already started.
On Tuesday, Deputy President William Ruto will be in The Hague to face three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly organising 2007-2008 post-election unrest that killed at least 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000.
Ruto’s trial comes about two months ahead of that of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces five charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and deportation.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto have said they will cooperate fully with the court and deny the charges against them. Also due to appear in The Hague is radio journalist Joshua arap Sang, accused of inciting violence.
Many Kenyan politicians have branded the ICC a “neo-colonialist” institution that only targets Africans, prompting the debate on a possible departure from the Rome Statute of the ICC.
One MP urged colleagues to condemn the ICC to “the cesspool of history”.
Duale called on the government to “urgently undertake measures to immediately withdraw” from the Rome Statute.
“I am setting a stage to defend the constitution of Kenya… it will set the stage for the end to the culture of impunity both at home and abroad,” he added.
The Jubilee Coalition of Kenyatta and Ruto dominate both Kenya’s National Assembly and Senate.
“Any law in this country or internationally like the Rome Statute can be repealed and can be amended,” said Asman Kamama, one of the lawmakers supporting a pull-out.
“It is not cast in stone and we want to be the trail blazers in the continent.”