13 October 2013

Kenya: African Union Tells Uhuru, Ruto to Snub the ICC

Photo: Boniface Mwangi/RNW
Post election violence in Kenya 2007 (file photo).

Nairobi — The African Union has unanimously resolved that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto should not appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC), where they both face crimes against humanity charges.

In the resolutions read by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Saturday, African States made it clear that no charges should be commenced or continued before any international court or tribunal against any serving Head of State or Government or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity during their term of office.

In this regard, the AU set up a Contact Group of the Executive Council, comprising five members from each region and led by its Chairperson to undertake consultations with members of the United Nations Security Council.

This Contact Group will engage the Security Council on all concerns touching on the relationship between African States and the ICC before November 12, when Kenyatta's trial kicks off.

"President Kenyatta and his Deputy must be allowed to lead the country in the consolidation of peace, reconciliation, reconstruction, democracy and development as per the will of the Kenyan people, expressed in the elections in March this year," the leaders said.

The Kenyan Head of State had earlier told the Court that the ICC was being used by western powers to force the Kenyan presidency adopt certain policies favourable to these nations.

He further observed that 70 percent of the ICC budget was funded by the European Union.

"Western powers are the key drivers of the ICC process. They have used prosecutions as ruses and bait to pressure Kenyan leadership into adopting, or renouncing various positions. The threat of prosecution usually suffices to have pliant countries execute policies favourable to these countries," he said.

"Through it, regime-change sleights of hand have been attempted in Africa. A number of them have succeeded."

When Ruto asked the Court for time off to deal with the Westgate Shopping Mall terror attack, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor said that this request should be turned down.

At the time, Senior Trial Attorney for the prosecution Anton Steynberg said that Ruto could delegate his national duties to someone else as opposed to dealing with the situation himself.

"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," noted Kenyatta.

He once again expressed concerns with the manner in which the Court had been handling its cases adding that it had a bias against African states.

Kenyatta noted that all the requests by the AU to the ICC have been turned down and the Court heavily relied on information from civil societies.

"Every plea we have made to be heard before that Court has landed upon deaf ears. When Your Excellencies' resolution was communicated to the Court through a letter to its president, it was dismissed as not being properly before the Court and therefore ineligible for consideration," he said.

"When a civil society organisation wrote a letter bearing sensational and prejudicial fabrications, the Court took urgent and substantial decisions based on it."

Kenyatta and the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta jetted back to the country on Saturday evening from the Ethiopian capital.

His plane touched down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport shortly after 10.00 pm and was received by senior government officials led by Ruto.

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