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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora