, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday confirmed that he was going to the International Criminal Court as an individual but not the country’s president to attend the status conference scheduled for Wednesday.
Using powers given to him under Article 147 of the Constitution, the President appointed his deputy William Ruto to be the Acting President during his absence.
“Let it not be said that I’m attending the status conference as the President of Kenya. Nothing warrants my being in court… I will go to The Hague on Wednesday not as President of Kenya. I invoke article 147 by appointing Deputy President William Ruto as acting President of Kenya,” he said.
He explained that he arrived at the decision to travel to The Hague as an individual to ensure he preserves the sovereignty of Kenya and its democracy.
He urged Kenyans to remain calm and focus on development to ensure the country is not held back by the case against him.
“I have chosen not to put the sovereignty of this nation on trial. I received notice to attend to a status conference at the ICC. This is not a time for us to be tense, it is time for us to be proud of the democracy we have built,” he said.
In his reference to the decision made by the African Union, the President reiterated some of the resolutions which included that no sitting Heads of States or government should be tried in any court.
He said it was unfortunate that despite five ministers being sent to New York to the UN Security Council, their request to have African presidents exempted from the ICC proceedings was turned down.
In his address to Parliament, the Head of State took time to explain to MPs how he has cooperated with the ICC since the time he was named as a suspect in the post election violence.
The President said he was however surprised that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was still clinging onto his case despite having told the court that she does not have evidence against him.
“I have cooperated with the Prosecutor to assist in establishing the truth at all material times. I have not interfered with the ICC prosecutor’s investigations; my government has cooperated fully. When the prosecutor admitted that the evidence was not enough to proceed with the case, I expected that the case would be dropped,” he asserted.
The President told Parliament that he was surprised when he heard that he was among the six named as suspects behind the 2008 Post Election Violence.
He insisted that he is innocent and that Bensouda’s statements that she does not have evidence against him came as no surprise.
“Four years ago, I watched in disbelief as I was named among five others bearing greatest responsibility for post-election violence. I am committed that my conscience is clear, will remain clear that I am innocent of all accusations levelled against me,” he said.
Trial Chamber V (b) last Tuesday directed for the physical presence of President Kenyatta during the status conference scheduled for Wednesday.
This was despite him having asked the court to postpone the status conference as he would be attending a regional meeting.
Attorney General Githu Muigai will be representing the Government of Kenya during Tuesday’s status conference in which he will explain the status of cooperation between the Government of Kenya and the ICC.
Ahead of the 2013 General Election, President Kenyatta said that the ICC case was a personal challenge and pledged that it would remain so even after he was elected President.
However, critics have raised concern that it would remain a national challenge since he is the Head of State.