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Govt says AU set to seek UNSC nod to suspend Kenyatta trial

15 October 2013, 11:14

Nairobi - The government said Monday the Africa Union is set to petition the UN Security Council (UNSC) to defer a case related to President Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed, said the country hopes the world court will respect Kenya's sovereignty and the need to give its leaders time to perform their constitutional duties.

"There are reactions we are receiving which are not negative at all; we are comforted by the reaction," Mohamed told a news conference in Nairobi.

Mohamed, who was responding to a question on reports that some Western diplomats had already joined the call for a deferral of the case, said the AU is preparing documents to seek a UNSC nod on the suspension of Kenyatta's trial for alleged crimes against humanity at the ICC ahead of his Nov. 12 trial date.

"As you know our Deputy President is currently at The Hague to ensure that, even as we await the processing of Africa's request for a deferral, due process is not in any way affected," Mohamed said.

Mohamed clarified that a call to suspend Kenyatta's trials at the UN court does not mean African countries sanction impunity and gross violation of human rights.

"Africa was unequivocal about its commitment to fight impunity, promote human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy on the continent in accordance with the constitutive act of the union," Mohammed said.

The AU Heads of State Summit on Saturday set out clear timelines that should be honored by the ICC and the UN Security Council before the commencement of Kenyatta's trials on Nov. 12.

The AU agreed that Kenya should send a letter to the UNSC requesting the deferral, in conformity with Article 16 of the Rome statute, of the proceedings against the President and Deputy President.

She said both the AU Executive Council and the AU Summit stood with Kenya on the deferral, excusal or postponement of the case facing the president and Deputy President at the ICC until they completed their mandated term in office.

"Clear decisions were made by the AU with clear timelines and we are hopeful that as responsible member states of the International Community, that Africa's request will be positively considered," she said.

"It was also decided that the President should not appear before the Court until the concerns raised by the AU have been adequately addressed by the Security Council and the ICC," Mohamed added.

The AU set up a Contact Group of the Executive Council, led by its Chairperson, comprising five members from each region to undertake consultations with members of the UNSC to champion its decisions reached in Addis Ababa.

The Contact Group will engage the UNSC on all concerns of the AU's relationship with the ICC, including the deferral of the Kenyan and Sudanese cases, in order to obtain feedback.

The resolutions said if a positive response to Africa's requests to the UNSC is not forthcoming, the AU will meet at the end of November to take another action.

"We have been waiting for this reaction for a long time. We are appeased by the outcome. ICC was no longer Uhuru's personal challenge after he was elected president; it became a national, then regional," Mohamed told journalists in Nairobi.

"On behalf of the country, let me say from the beginning that we were extremely humbled and are very grateful for the unparalleled, unprecedented and unwavering support that we received from our continent."

Mohamed said both the Council and the Summit stood with Kenya on the key questions of the day, showing a solidarity and grip of the major issues that Africa must address in its relations with the International Criminal Court as well as other partners.

"That is what Kenyans expect. That is what Africa expects," Mohammed told journalists. She reiterated that international laws and conventions grant immunity to a sitting Head of State and other senior state officials.

Mohamed said that the continent confirmed its intention to ensure that the Rome Statutes are modified by the Assembly of State Parties to respond to the aspirations of its largest constituency as a court of last resort of the highest possible standards and standing.

"Kenya has from the beginning fully cooperated with the ICC and conformed to the Rome Statutes without ever deviating from its obligations," she said.

"Both the President and the Deputy President have continuously and without fail attended court sessions and argued their cases fully," she said.

- Xinhua


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