The Government of Uganda has supported the decision by the Kenyan parliament to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kenyan lawmakers on Thursday backed a motion to pull out of the ICC, ahead of next week's trial of their vice-president William Ruto. Uganda says the decision was long overdue.
"Kenya voted to join the Rome Statute by themselves and they are free to withdraw," said Uganda Government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo. He added that Kenya was right to withdraw because ICC has showed a lack of fairness in its indictment of leaders.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, vice-president Ruto, and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang are accused of inciting violence in 2007. "Uganda has made its position clear. Our disappointment is with the way the indictment against the Kenyan leaders was selectively done.
Perhaps they wanted to make them withdraw from the race but the Kenyan people stood their ground by voting them in. The withdrawal (from ICC by the Kenyans) is an indictment to the credibility of the ICC," Opondo said. Career diplomat, Jack Wamai Wamanga, who is also the MP for Mbale municipality, said a country has the right to withdraw if it feels the decisions of the court are going against their interests.
"If you join and ratify an international treaty you are bound by it, but you can jump out. So the Kenyans have the right to withdraw from the treaty," he said. Wamanga, however, said the decision could be regrettable because it may cause leaders around Africa to commit crimes against their people with impunity, and withdraw from the treaty whenever the court goes for them.
The symbolic vote offers a defiant message to the ICC, but does not impact upcoming trials of the East African nation's leadership, and parliament must now vote on a Bill within 30 days to formalise steps for an actual withdrawal. Kenya is the first country to hold such a vote. The motion "to suspend any links, cooperation and assistance" to the court was overwhelmingly approved by the National Assembly through a voice vote.
On Tuesday, the ICC is due to start the trial of Ruto on 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 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.
Many Kenyan politicians have branded the ICC a "neocolonialist" institution that only targets Africans, prompting the debate on a possible departure from the Rome Statute of the ICC.