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Western diplomats now back Uhuru ICC trial deferral

Monday, October 14, 2013

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A deal that would see President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) deferred for a year has been reached by Western diplomats, and is due to be presented to the UN Security Council.

According to the UK-based Telegraph newspaper, the resolution came after an extraordinary summit of the African Union issued an ultimatum to the court to stop the case, warning judges that Kenyatta must not be compelled to face trial.

The resolution by the diplomats is expected to avoid a damaging stand-off between the court and African states over charges faced by Kenyatta of orchestrating the deadly 2007 post-election violence.

A senior European diplomat stated that Kenyatta is not an indicted figure who is defying the court.

“He is not like Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir. He is someone who is working closely with the West in a region in chaos that needs to tackle a very worrying terrorist situation. A solution must be found that avoids a breakdown in relations with Kenyatta or the court’s authority,” he said.

According to The Telegraph, European officials have sought to adopt measures to ensure Kenyatta is not forced to leave the country in the wake of the Westgate mall terror attack.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said Britain had however not changed its position that Kenyatta and the other defendants should cooperate with the ICC.

Bill Cash, the Conservative MP and chairman of the All-Party Kenya Group, called on the Government to support a suspension of the trial in a House of Commons debate last week.

“The events in Kenya were horrific but the President was democratically elected by a significant majority in full knowledge of the case. That must give rise to questions over the continuation of the original application to the ICC,” he said.

The AU had over the Weekend unanimously resolved that Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto should not appear before the ICC, where they both face crimes against humanity charges.

In the resolutions read by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, 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.

The 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 is set to kick off.

The Kenyan Head of State had 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.


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