CORD, Jubilee MPs seek deal over International Criminal Court

Nairobi, Kenya: MPs from both coalitions are working on a bi-partisan plan to shore up Kenya’s bid to have International Criminal Court (ICC) cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto suspended.

The Standard established the group of MPs from ruling Jubilee and opposition CORD held first talks at Parliament Buildings last Thursday.

Today, the MPs pressing for an Inter Party Parliamentary Group (IPPG) forum to broker a deal on ICC cases are scheduled to have another meeting.

At least 25 MPs are involved in the initiative “to provide a bi-partisan backing” for the government’s petition to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for deferral of the cases for one year.

But the parliamentary initiative, according to a working document seen by The Standard, acknowledges deferral only “postpones the problem” and is exploring a “sustainable solution”.

That includes establishing a domestic justice mechanism to petition the ICC to refer the cases, compensation of victims and a truth commission on the 2007 post-election violence.

The team led by Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka claims its motivation is “finding a Kenyan-driven solution to the ICC cases, anchored on ensuring justice for the victims, fostering national reconciliation while preserving Kenya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Security Council

It is seen as an attempt to forge a bi-partisan resolution to bolster Kenya’s petition to the UNSC, after the acrimonious fallout following the Jubilee-backed resolution to end the country’s membership of the ICC. Instructively, the new initiative urges government not to sever ties with ICC but press for reforms of the court at a meeting of State parties scheduled on November 20 to 28.

Citing the African Union-backed Kenya’s petition to the UNSC calling for deferral of cases before President Uhuru’s scheduled appearance at The Hague on November 12, the MPs say it would be critical for the National Assembly and the Senate to provide a bi-partisan backing for this process.

“A bi-partisan motion in this regard would send a strong message to the UNSC that this is a national matter that enjoys broad domestic support,” the document reads, citing the council acknowledged the Westgate terror attack constituted a threat to international peace and security.

It is, however, unclear what weight Parliament’s resolution will have on UNSC decision.

“Deferral of the ICC case only postpones the problem. A sustainable solution would include establishing a domestic justice mechanism that eventually triggers the complementarity clauses of the Rome Statute and have the cases handled in the country,” it adds.

It proposes the House Justice and Legal Affairs committee could hold consultations with relevant parts of the Judiciary, the Executive and the Civil Society and provide recommendations on the next steps.

“Justice and compensation for the victims is critical for national healing,” says the document. It is envisaged that Parliament will have powers to determine the amount of compensation to the victims of post-election violence.

The committee would also review different models and propose Kenyan-driven mechanisms for bringing justice to the victims.

It proposes a new Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Onyonka took members through the proposals last Thursday.

During the meeting, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed reportedly pressed for the matter to be steered by the top leadership of the two coalitions, emphasising chances of success were higher when it was handled in structured manner at party level.

“The leadership of CORD headed by (former Prime Minister) Raila Odinga must be fully involved in this matter before it is formally introduced in Parliament,” Junet is understood to have told the meeting.

Monday, MPs Onyonka, Junet (ODM), Katoo ole Metito (Kajiado South, TNA), Johnson Sakaja (nominated, TNA) and TJ Kajwang (Ruaraka, ODM) confirmed the ongoing discussions.

“The feeling is that the country needs to be stable and the most mature way to handle the ICC matter is to sit down as leaders and find a common position that will lead to a bi-cameral resolution by both Houses,” Onyonka said.

Political affiliation

Sakaja said MPs had agreed to come together over the issue irrespective of political affiliation.-standardmedia

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