31 January 2014

Kenya Pushes for AU's April Ultimatum to ICC

KENYA is reportedly lobbying for a strong anti-ICC resolution at the ongoing AU Summit meeting in Addis Ababa. Rwanda, on behalf of Kenya, was proposing that AU writes a letter to the ICC giving it up to April to withdraw the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta or face mass withdrawal of cooperation.

Sources told the Star that the issue was first raised on Wednesday evening during a meeting of Executive Council of AU ministers, but dropped because the letter was not placed before them. Uhuru and Foreign Affairs Secretary Amina Mohamed are attending the meeting.

Rumours that Uhuru was poised to take over the AU chairmanship were dispelled after his Mauritanian counterpart Abdel Aziz took over yesterday.

"The chairperson of the meeting had not received the letter, and several member states hadn't received it too. The chairperson requested the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary for Kenya to take the floor and elucidate on the letter, however, the minister wasn't in the room," the source said.

Already, there is a draft resolution calling on AU members to support amendments to Articles 16 and 27 of the Rome Statute.

Amendment of Article 16 will give the UN General Assembly power to defer cases if the Security Council fails to do so, while amending Article 27 will entrench relevance of official capacities in the statute and secure them immunity from ICC while in office.

The amendment are part of those Kenya wanted passed at the Assembly of State Parties last November.

"The Assembly decides that African state parties should comply with AU decisions on ICC and continue to speak with one voice to ensure that the African proposal for amendments to Article 16 and 27 of the Rome Statute are considered by the ASP Working Group on Amendments as well as the forthcoming sessions of the ASP," the resolution reads.

The resolution appeared to address emerging divisions within the AU on ICC.

One of the resolutions calls on AU members to "ensure that they adhere and articulate commonly agreed positions in line with their obligations under the constitutive Act of the AU."

In an interview two weeks ago, Botswana President Ian Khama openly opposed the immunity proposal of the AU saying victims of atrocities should not wait for the President to retire.

He gave the example of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.

"Gaddafi was in power for 40 years. We have others on this continent who have been in power for 30 years, 20 years. Are you suggesting that if any President commits a crime, maybe earlier on in his term, the victims have to wait 10, 20, 30, 40 years before there is justice?" Khama said.

"I think being president shouldn't protect us from appearing before the court."

In her research findings published by the Star earlier this week, former German envoy to Kenya Margit Hellwig-Boette alluded to divisions among AU members on ICC.

"It appears outwardly united but is in fact internally divided on the question of how to deal with the ICC," she said.

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