A Kenyan senator has called on the majority leader this week to introduce a measure to ratify a decision by the African Union seeking to defer the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who formally kicked off the crusade for the country to withdraw from the court, says Kenyans overwhelmingly support the right of the president to refuse to appear before the Hague-based ICC.
“Kenya will like to use its institutions to ratify a regional decision, and considering the fact that in the past, we have had a motion about pulling out of the ICC, it will be in order for the majority leader of the senate to introduce a motion to facilitate a process of ratification of the AU decision,” said Murkomen.
At a two-day summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the African leaders agreed that Kenyatta should not attend the trial if the U.N. Security Council does not agree to delay the proceedings.
Foreign ministers of the continental body had also agreed that current heads of state should not be tried by the Hague-based court.
“The decision of the AU was critical in the sense that the next 10 to 20 days when the Security Council will consider that decision, will redefine, basically, international law, Africa’s relations with the International Criminal Court, and basically the future working relationship between Africa and other UN institutions,” said Murkomen.
The ICC accuses Kenya’s President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto of playing a key role in the country’s 2007-2008 post-election violence that left at least 1,300 people dead and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. Broadcaster Arap Sang also faces similar charges at the court.
“If the Security Council is not able to work with us, we [should] mobilize the rest of the nation to ensure that our president does not travel to the ICC,” said Murkomen.
Critics say the court only targets Africans, but remains oblivious to atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in other parts of the world. The ICC denies the accusation.
Kenya’s parliament plans to introduce a measure enabling the East African nation to pull out of the Rome Statute, which established the court.
Murkomen says there are strong indications the measure will be approved by the legislature.
“In the last motion to pull out of the ICC, we had overwhelming support [and] there is no reason why we shouldn’t get similar support for this motion,” said Murkomen. “Even if [Kenyatta] doesn’t sign it, there is a procedure in the constitution to return it back to parliament, and if we pass it for the second time, it will automatically become law.”
The president may have his personal view as an individual,” said Murkomen, “but we are here to always remind him that he is a property of the nation.”