Addis Ababa — President Uhuru Kenyatta has put a case for a mass walkout from the Rome Statute that establishes the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the global court has become a toy of imperial Western powers.
Addressing fellow Heads of State at a special Summit of the African Union in Ethiopia on Saturday, President Kenyatta said powerful Western countries - which were themselves not party to the Statute - had turned the court to a tool for manipulation and neo-colonialism of African States.
"The ICC has been reduced into a painfully farcical pantomime, a travesty that adds insult to the injury of victims. It stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers," said Kenyatta.
In a speech filled with insinuations of a need to review Africa's continued support of the ICC, Kenyatta argued that the court had abandoned its initial path of global justice and accused it of 'race-hunting' owing to its prosecution of only Africans.
He added that the ICC had become contemptuous of the African Union, citing the numerous applications by the continental body, which have not won favour with the court.
"When a civil society organisation wrote a letter bearing sensational and prejudicial fabrications, the Court took urgent and substantial decisions based on it.
"Before the ICC, African sovereign nations' resolutions are nothing compared with the opinions of civil society activists.
"The AU is the bastion of African sovereignty, and the vanguard of our unity. Yet the ICC deems it altogether unworthy of the minutest consideration," said the President.
He called on the African leaders at the Summit to make a strong statement to the world of their displeasure with the ICC.
"Africa is not a third-rate territory of second-class peoples. We are not a project, or experiment of outsiders.
"We want to see the ICC as fair and even-handed throughout the world, but what can we do when everyone but Africa is exempt from accountability?
"We would love nothing more than to have an international forum for justice and accountability, but what choice do we have when we get only bias and race-hunting at the ICC?"
He poked accusing fingers at the United States of America and Britain which are major proponents of the court yet they have refused to subject themselves under its jurisdiction.
"The British foreign secretary Robin Cook said at the time, that the International Criminal Court was not set up to bring to book Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom or Presidents of the United States. Had someone other than a Western leader said those fateful words, the word 'impunity' would have been thrown at them with an emphatic alacrity," he complained.
Kenyatta said the same Western powers were using the threat of prosecution at the ICC as a new tool to colonise Africa and impose their wishes on governments.
"The threat of prosecution usually suffices to have pliant countries execute policies favourable to these countries. Through it, regime-change sleights of hand have been attempted in Africa. A number of them have succeeded," Kenyatta argued.
The President said the same Western powers had even tried to impose a leadership in Kenya, but their attempts were thwarted by Kenyan voters.
"The Office of the Prosecutor made certain categorical pronouncements regarding eligibility for leadership of candidates in Kenya's last general election. Only a fortnight ago, the Prosecutor proposed undemocratic and unconstitutional adjustments to the Kenyan Presidency.
He went further to cite humiliation being meted by the court to him and his deputy William Ruto in their current cases before the court.
"I cannot narrate quite accurately the calculated humiliation and stigma the prosecution has inflicted on us at every turn, within and outside the proceedings. It is all consistent with a political agenda, rather than a quest for justice," he told his peers in Addis Ababa.
The special Summit in Addis Ababa was called to deliberate Africa's stance on the ICC, with AU Chairman Hailemariam Desalegn saying the UN Security Council and the court must heed to the concerns of African leaders.
The African Union is expected to come up with a resolution to push for a deferrement of the case against President Kenyatta, which is due to kick off next month.