NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 9 – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed now says there is no history of a sitting president going on trial.
While making reference to President Uhuru Kenyatta whose trial at The Hague is set to commence early next month, Mohamed indicated that in many developed countries, it was rare for a sitting president to be taken before a court of law.
“In countries that are considered more advanced than ours, it is clear that presidents are not hauled before the courts and that in many cases, the courts have to wait for their day after the president leaves office. That has been true for many presidents in the north,” she said.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the African Union (AU) summit this weekend, she declined to confirm or deny whether Kenyatta will travel to The Hague for his trial but stated that as a sitting Head of State, his circumstances were different from when he was a civilian.
“As you know, he has cooperated fully with the court up until now. The circumstances are different. Absolutely, totally and completely different. Before, he was not the Head of State of the Republic. Today, he is the Head of State. It is going to be the first time that a serving Head of State is brought before any court of any kind not just here but anywhere in the world,” she said.
She remained non-committal on the situation but urged Kenyans to adopt a wait and see attitude.
“There is a request that has been put before the court for the president to be allowed to attend some of the sessions via video link. We are still waiting for a decision to be made on that and so going forward we will wait to hear from the court,” she said.
She however reiterated Kenya’s commitment to fulfil its obligations at the ICC where Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto are facing trial for crimes against humanity.
The Cabinet Secretary further explained that the AU Summit scheduled to start in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the weekend is meant to reflect on the continent’s relationship with the court, and not to rally for a pullout.
“We have not yet reached the stage of actually pulling out of any Statute. As you know, there was a Motion for repealing our International Crimes Act and basically, we have not gotten there yet. I will not comment on it because we have been here before. We are still cooperating with the court,” she said.
Ruto’s trial is already underway at The Hague where he is facing crimes against humanity charges alongside former journalist Joshua arap Sang.
African nations will meet from Friday to debate what is believed to be a possible withdrawal from the International Criminal Court over claims it targets African leaders.
The 54 member African Union has accused The Hague-based ICC of singling out Africans for prosecution and has specifically demanded that the court drop the proceedings against Kenya’s leaders.