NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – President Uhuru Kenyatta handed over Kenya’s leadership to his deputy William Ruto as the former jetted out to Ethiopia and Ruto arrived in the country from The Hague.
The President is headed for Addis Ababa to attend an Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
The Summit is themed “Africa’s Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC)” where Kenyatta and Ruto are the highest ranking Africans currently facing charges.
Ruto who has been in The Hague during the week came back to Kenya just for the weekend and to be in charge while the president is at the AU meeting.
The President is accompanied by the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Secretary Amina Mohamed.
Several nations in the 54-member AU, whose rotating presidency is currently held by Ethiopia, have accused the ICC of singling out Africans for prosecution, and have specifically demanded that the court drop the proceedings against Kenya’s leadership.
African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have ratified the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, which took effect on July 1, 2002, and a mass pull-out from the court – as some countries have demanded – could seriously damage the institution.
The bloc, however, appears divided on the issue – with countries like Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Rwanda taking a tough line, other nations seemingly more reluctant and some prominent African figures lobbying hard against a pull-out.
Before jetting off to Addis Ababa, The President and his Deputy talked briefly on the runaway next to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Presidential Pavilion.
After seeing off the president, Ruto then proceeded to Trans Nzoia County, where he is scheduled to close an IDP camp in Saboti later in the day.
The deputy President left The Hague on Friday after the proceedings in his ongoing trial broke off for the weekend.
Ruto must be back on time for the resumption of his trial on Monday as he cannot be tried in absentia unless the Appeals Chamber of the ICC rules to uphold the earlier ruling that excused him from attending all the trials in person.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appealed an earlier ruling which had excused Ruto from physically being present at all the sittings of his trail.
Bensouda argued that the absence of the accused in the trial would impair the integrity of the trials.
The trial of Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua Sang is scheduled to run until November 1, when there would be a break to pave way for the commencement of the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta on November 12.
Trial Chamber V (A) is yet to communicate if there will be another session this year after the adjournment on November 1 which the prosecution had requested.