News / Africa

    Kenya Pushes for Delay as ICC Trial of Kenyatta Looms

    Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives to attend Mashujaa (Heroes) Day at the Nyayo National Stadium in capital Nairobi, Oct. 20, 2013.
    Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives to attend Mashujaa (Heroes) Day at the Nyayo National Stadium in capital Nairobi, Oct. 20, 2013.
    Gabe Joselow
    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial date at the International Criminal Court is now less than three weeks away.  His administration, with backing from the African Union, is lobbying for the case to be deferred. 

    Kenyatta has been adept at turning the ICC charges against him from a potential blight on his career to a rallying cause for his supporters.

    Accused of orchestrating violence after Kenya’s 2007 presidential election that killed more than 1,100 people, Kenyatta has characterized the charges as a neo-colonialist attack on the country.

    He used the rhetoric most recently in a speech Sunday marking the country’s equivalent of Heroes Day celebrating fallen freedom fighters, like his father, Kenya's first president.

    “Let us confront without flinching those external forces seeking to thwart our collective aspirations," he said.  "They may be powerful and rich, but so were the colonists.  They may disrespect, but we have defeated their ilk before.”

    Kenyatta’s trial is due to begin November 12 at the ICC in The Hague, where the deputy president, William Ruto, is currently attending proceedings in a separate but similar case against him.

    Meantime, Kenya and the African Union have been lobbying the United Nations Security Council to have the case deferred for a year, citing concerns about security in Kenya and the region.

    The requests follow September's terrorist siege on a Nairobi shopping mall attributed to the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab.  The argument is sitting leaders cannot react and handle future security threats, if they are out of the country for prolonged trials.

    Adams Oloo, political science chair at the University of Nairobi, says Kenya and the AU are exploring “unchartered waters” in trying to get more leverage for African leaders.

    “The Kenyatta regime and the African Union are saying they don’t want to set precedents in which there is a possibility of heads of state from Africa, in future, being dragged into the court.  I think that’s the problem, the major problem that they have,” he said.

    Kenyatta and Ruto have cooperated with the court so far and have promised to continue to do so.

    The president won what appeared to be a minor victory last week when ICC judges ruled he would not have to appear in person for all of his trial - only for the opening and closing statements, judgments and when victims testify.

    Barring a deferral from the U.N., Oloo says he expects the president to continue to cooperate with the ICC, as long as chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda does not appeal the decision allowing him to skip some portions of the trial.

    “I think they’ll only have a problem if Bensouda appeals and it is now demanded that he should be there physically the way the deputy president is there physically on a day-to-day basis.  I believe they would have a problem with that and would see that as trying to undermine his authority as head of state and head of government,” he said.

    Bensouda has appealed against a similar decision granting Deputy President Ruto a conditional exemption to appearing at his trial.  A judgment on that appeal is due on Friday, and will indicate how much leeway might be granted to the president.

    Still, some rights groups in Kenya see a potential deferral of the trial as a deferral of justice and object to Kenyatta's attempts to escape appearing in person.

    “You know, in these discussions, where are the victims?" Those people who suffered, who lost their property, who lost their lives, those who lost their loved ones.  How do they access justice?" asked Stephen Musau, chairman of the Rights Promotion and Protection Center in Kenya.

    If things do not go Kenyatta’s way, and were he to skip his trial altogether, he could be slapped with an international arrest warrant, like the one put on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes and genocide charges.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Josphat from: Nairobi
    October 23, 2013 11:32 PM
    While there's no doubt atrocious crimes were comitted, all witness testimony so far shows the wrong people are in the dock. Its a case visiting injustice on innocent people in the name of justice for the victims, for political expendiency. The real criminals must be in 7th heaven as ICC OTP continues down the wrong rabbit hole inspite of glaring evidence. Its also amazing that numerous claims of criminal influence of witnesses by the OTP are not being investigated

    by: Collins ochieng from: Nairobi
    October 23, 2013 2:15 PM
    If prezo is innocent as he claims why does he fear the hague?.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora