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African Nations Discuss Stance on ICC

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FILE - Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto (R) reacts as he sits in the courtroom before his trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

FILE - Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto (R) reacts as he sits in the courtroom before his trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

African Union leaders are meeting in Ethiopia to discuss the International Criminal Court, which some countries charge is biased against African nations.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the 54-member AU on Friday the ICC has become a political tool that unfairly targeted Africans.

On Thursday, Zimbabwe's justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, accused the ICC of humiliating African leaders while being slow to prosecute Western leaders.

The criticism comes as the Hague-based court prepares for the November trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr. Kenyatta, and his deputy, William Ruto, face charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly organizing post-election violence in 2007 and 2008.

On Thursday, Mr. Kenyatta's lawyers called for the case the case to be dismissed, citing alleged abuses that included witness intimidation.

The Kenyan parliament voted last month for the country to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the ICC.

However, Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed says Kenya will not lobby for a mass withdrawal from the ICC at the AU summit.

Earlier this week, the world court received support from 130 groups across Africa. In an open letter, they said the ICC is a "crucial court of last resort."

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan also defended the ICC and urged African leaders not to withdraw their support.

Amnesty International said an African bid to pull out from the ICC would be "reactionary in the extreme." In a Thursday statement, the international rights group said the court should expand its work outside of Africa, but that did not mean the current ICC probes involving African countries were "without basis."

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the court for alleged war crimes and genocide in Darfur.

The AU summit began Friday with ministerial-level meetings. Heads of state will join the session on Saturday in Addis Ababa.


Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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