Friday, May 24, 2013

US, Europe oppose Kenya bid to terminate ICC charges

From left: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO/FILE
From left: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kenya made a new plea to the UN Security Council on Thursday to "terminate" International Criminal Court charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders over political unrest in 2008.

But Western nations on the 15-member council told Kenyan diplomats at a private meeting that Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and one of their followers must face the court, diplomats said.

"We have asked that these proceedings be terminated as soon as possible," said Kenya's ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau after the closed meeting.

"How that will be done, by whom that will be done is yet to be determined, but clearly the proceedings need to end because they are not consistent with peace and justice in our country," he added.

European nations on the council and the United States, which is a supporter of the ICC even though it is not a member, said the Kenyan leaders must face the charges, diplomats said after the meeting.

"There was a very firm response from ICC member states and the US that they must take their case to the court," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kenyatta, Ruto, radio presenter Joshua arap Sang face crimes against humanity charges over violence after elections in late December 2007 in which more than 1,100 people died. All deny the charges.

The trial of Kenyatta, who won an election in March, is currently scheduled to start in July. He has vowed to cooperate with the court while at the same time launching a fierce diplomatic campaign against the case.

Kenya was a founding member of the ICC and Kamau said the country was not trying to "circumvent" the charges.

"If the court itself were to decide to terminate these cases owing to the weak and the frail nature of the evidence, this in itself would be satisfactory," the envoy added.

The Security Council is unlikely to intervene, however, diplomats said. It cannot order the court to end the charges though it could ask for a one year suspension in the case.

Rwanda, China, Russia and Azerbaijan, Morocco and Pakistan were more receptive to the Kenyan case, envoys said. None of the group are ICC members.

"The council has heard Kenya, it is difficult to see what it can do now," said a second diplomat.

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