25 May 2013

Zambia: Sata Defends Kenyatta

PRESIDENT Michael Sata has defended his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, saying that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction to prosecute him over alleged crimes against humanity.

President Sata, who is among other African Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa to attend the 21st Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) told journalists here that African countries should use their local judicial systems to address any offences alleged to have been committed by its people.

"If you find the Kenyan President is at fault or a Zambian President at fault, let him be tried by his own people. Why should he be tried by The Hague?" President Sata asked. "Let them deal with their cases which are many. First of all what jurisdiction do they have? They have a lot of cases in Europe."

The President was talking to journalists as he was heading to attend a closed-door session of 10 African states looking at the United Nations reforms.

The Hague is seeking President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto for their alleged role in the 2007 post-election violence in which more than 1,000 people died and an estimated 500,000 displaced.

The Kenyan administration has since written to the United Nations Security Council calling on its members to intervene and terminate the charges.

And President Sata observed that the major challenge facing Africa was high unemployment, especially among the young population.

Mr Sata said should Africa manage to address job demand among its people while civil unrest would be tackled.

"What you young people should understand is that the major problem facing Africa is unemployment. Once we address this, you young people will stop troubling us. You will have something to do and you will stop being used to fight each other and shed each other's blood," he said.

The President said the African continent had managed to ensure free movement of its people through visa requirements and that communication between countries was equally important.

He said civil strife was reducing around the continent but, in the case of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it was because of external influence that the unrest had persisted.

"For Congo, it is not the Congolese who are fighting. It's outsiders because they are after their (Congo's) minerals," he added.

And Africa Development Bank (AfDB) president David Kaberuka has urged Africa to invest heavily in infrastructure and technological growth if the Vision 2063 is to be meaningful and achieved.

Mr Kaberuka said the past 50 years of Africa's economic performance had been torrid, while focus for the next 50 years was bright as long as African leaders took correct measures that would result in the economic empowerment of its people.

He said time had come for the continent to look for solutions to its problems within and not continue to depending on foreign-tailored remedies to various challenges being faced.

Mr Kaberuka said under the Vision 2063, Africa should begin a path of determination to improve its economic viability and sustain it.

"We need to invest more in infrastructure growth, tackle poverty and joblessness if the dream and targets set in the Vision 2063 are to be achieved and Africa is placed where we want it to be," Mr Kaberuka said. "Africa has a long journey."

Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Dessalegn said the historic golden jubilee celebrations were a special occasion to pay special tribute to the generation of pan-Africanists who pioneered the ideology that helped to unite African people.

"We need the continued support of our friends and partners in our development endeavours but first and foremost, we seek their understanding on the need for us to have the policy space to design and implement our own developmental strategies," Mr Dessalegn said.

AU Commission chairperson, Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma called for deepened solidarity among African countries, especially addressing civil unrest in countries that were still engulfed in conflict.

She urged delegates to note that as they deliberated, the continent's populace was waiting with anxiety for the outcome of the gathering.

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