Kenyatta says AU ready to chart own destiny, lauds support over ICC
14 October 2013, 06:38
Nairobi - President Uhuru Kenyatta has lauded the African Union for its overwhelming support on the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue.
Kenyatta said in a statement issued in Nairobi after his arrival in Nairobi on Saturday evening from the AU summit that the AU's resolutions passed regarding the ICC have sent a clear signal that the continent is ready to chart its own destiny.
"Our mandate as AU and as individual African States is to protect our own and each other's independence and sovereignty," Kenyatta said.
"As Kenya's president, it gives me a feeling of deep and lasting pride to know that I can count on the African Union to listen and help in trying times. Africa has always stood by our side," he said.
Both Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are facing crimes against humanity charges at the ICC. Out of 122 countries that are States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 34 are African States.
The benefits of full cooperation with the ICC, as exemplified by the non-issuance of the arrest warrants against the three Kenyan suspects, have also attested to the court's commitment to the rule of law, contrary to the widely shared belief about its prosecutor.
Kenya, whose government unwittingly landed before the court by playing to the whims of interested politicians, has attempted to mount a political battle against the ICC, going all the way to the UN Security Council, later decided to try its luck before the court.
But after initially hoping to win quick fixes, a bid to demand a deferral of the two Kenyan cases for local trials on the basis that law reforms had been initiated later fell flat and a Sudanese- modeled international lobbying campaign succeeded only continentally.
The Addis Ababa summit chaired by Ethiopia's Premier Hailemariam Dessalegn discussed the relationship between the world court and the continent.
Speakers called on the UN Security Council and the ICC to work with the AU to enable the Kenyan leadership to fulfill its constitutional mandate.
Several leaders including AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma asked the ICC to cease to act in a manner that undermined the constitutional obligations of President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto.
The AU Assembly unanimously resolved that President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto should not appear before the ICC.
In its resolutions, the pan-African body decided that no charges should be commenced or continued before any international court or tribunal against any serving head of state or government or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity during their term of office.
"President Kenyatta and his deputy must be allowed to lead the country in the consolidation of peace, reconciliation, reconstruction, democracy and development as per the will of the Kenyan people, expressed in the elections in March this year," the leaders said.
Ruto is already standing trial for crimes committed during the 2007 post-election violence.
Ruto, Kenyatta and radio journalist Joshua Sang who are not subject to arrest warrants have pledged to continue voluntarily appearing before the ICC.
Ruto, Sang and Kenyatta face crimes against humanity charges for their alleged roles in murders, deportation or forcible transfer of population, and persecution during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
To advance its decisions, the AU set up a Contact Group of the Executive Council, comprising five members from each region and led by its chairperson to undertake consultations with members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The Contact Group will engage the UNSC on all concerns of the AU's relationship with the ICC before next month's expected commencement of the trial of the President Kenyatta.
During the special summit, Kenyatta observed that the understanding of the states which subscribed to the Rome Statute was based on the trust that the ICC would administer and secure justice in a fair, impartial and independent manner.
But, President Kenyatta said, over the past decade, the good- faith subscribers have fallen prey to the high-mindedness and idealism of Western powers who are the key drivers of the ICC process.
"They have used prosecutions as ruses and bait to pressure Kenyan leadership into adopting, or renouncing various positions," Kenyatta said.
He noted that the Office of the Prosecutor made certain categorical pronouncements regarding eligibility for leadership of candidates in Kenya's last general election that go beyond interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and constitute a fetid insult to Kenya and Africa.
"African sovereignty means nothing to the ICC and its patrons. They also dovetail altogether too conveniently with the warnings given to Kenyans just before the last elections: choices have consequences," he said.
The president said the Jubilee Coalition's decisive election victory must be seen as a categorical rebuke by Kenyans of those who wished to interfere with the country's internal affairs and infringe its sovereignty.
He said while the U.S. and other nations refused to sign the Rome Statute out of fear, Africa's misgivings are born of bitter experience.
The president said Kenya seeks to be treated with dignity as a proud member of the community of nations which has contributed immensely, with limited resources, to the achievement of peace, security and multilateralism.
"Kenya looks to her friends in time of need. We come to you to vindicate our independence and sovereignty. Our unity is not a lie. The African Union is not an illusion," Kenyatta told the AU leaders.
He said the philosophy of divide-and rule, which worked against Africa during the pre-independence era, should not be allowed to shackle the continent to the ground in its Season of Renaissance.
"Our individual and collective sovereignty requires us to take charge of our destiny, and fashion African solutions to African problems," Kenyatta said.
He expressed concern that although Africa was not the only continent where international crimes were committed, Kenyatta regretted that none of the over 30 cases before the court related to a situation outside Africa.
All the people indicted before that court, ever since its founding, have been Africans, the President said.