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AU cites war on terror in plea for Kenya deferral

President Uhuru Kenyatta and part of the Kenyan delegation at the AU extraordinary session follow proceedings at the African Union Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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The African Union on Tuesday cited Kenya's status as "a frontline state in the fight against terrorism" in a formal plea to the United Nations Security Council for deferral of the International Criminal Court cases against Kenya's leaders.

The proceedings against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto "may pose a threat to the ongoing efforts in the promotion of peace, national healing and reconciliation as well as the rule of law and stability in Kenya and the region," the AU declared.

The AU added in a letter to the Security Council president signed by 49 countries that continuing the ICC prosecutions "will distract and divert them from fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities."

Kenya topped the list of signers.


A separate letter from Kenya's UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau also emphasises the danger Kenya and the entire Horn of Africa faces from terrorism.

A threat to international peace and security is the only consideration by which the Security Council is permitted to order a one-year suspension of proceedings before the ICC.

Postponing the proceedings for one year will give time, Ambassador Kamau wrote, "to consider how best to respond to the threat to international peace and security in the context of the Kenya situation."

In its letter to Azerbaijan UN Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev, who is serving as council president in October, the AU called the security situation in Kenya "very complex."

"There are at play important dynamics and tensions of politics, peace, justice and the rule of law. regional and national insecurity as well as a very acute sense of ethnicity that cannot be wished away or swept under the carpet," the African Union said.

The AU letter also noted that Kenya has undertaken a series of reforms in recent years, including a strengthening of the judiciary.

With President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto at the fore, the country has likewise adopted "bold measures aimed at promoting national reconciliation and healing," the letter added.

The AU also calls on the ICC to postpone President Kenyatta's trial and suspend Deputy President Ruto's until the Security Council addresses the deferral request.

Sources at the UN suggest that the Security Council will find it difficult to reach consensus on the AU request. And if even one of the council's five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- objects, a deferral will not be granted.

The council rejected a plea for deferral of the Kenya cases in 2011.


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