Cord likely to change tack on International Criminal Court

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A crucial meeting of Cord leaders set for Tuesday could give the coalition’s leader, Mr Raila Odinga, the mandate to support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s push for the Kenya cases at the International Criminal Court to be deferred.
This would present a major change in position for the opposition coalition that has previously insisted that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, must let the judicial process at The Hague run its course.

Multiple sources in Cord on Monday said that Mr Odinga, who returned from a US trip on Sunday, is aware of talks within the party and is keen to examine all options.

A number of MPs, who are members of a bi-partisan initiative on the ICC cases, said the country was grinding to a halt and it was time politicians united to secure a one year deferral of the cases.

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The parliamentary initiative headed by Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka (ODM) faces its acid test today as Cord leaders meet with only 13 days remaining to November 12, the scheduled date for the start of President Kenyatta’s trial at The Hague.

“Yes, there is debate in which the former PM is involved… Regardless of the merits and demerits of the ICC cases, The Hague is becoming an impediment to development,” said an MP who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of Cord.

Mr Ruto, who was excused for three days by the ICC judges last Friday, has been attending his trial proceedings at The Hague which begun on September 10.

On Sunday, Mr Odinga said Cord had called an urgent meeting for today to discuss the ICC matter but declined to state the coalition’s position on the deferral bid submitted by the African Union to the UN Security Council.

“It is after the meeting that we shall state our position on the matter,” he said on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

On Monday, Cord deputy Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said members had not received the agenda.

“We have been called for the meeting and we are waiting to see what will be placed on the agenda,” he said on phone.

The Cord meeting, which could change the current state of politics in the country should Mr Odinga agree to back President Kenyatta’s quest for a deferral, comes two days to the date scheduled for a meeting between the AU Council of Ministers and the UN Security Council in New York.

The ministers will be led by the chairman of the AU Council of ministers, Dr Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia.

The AU has written a 20-page letter, which was submitted to the UN Security Council’s president of the month, Azerbaijani’s Agshin Mehdiyev by Kenya’s ambassador to the UN, Mr Macharia Kamau.

On Monday, the MPs said the push for a deferral could gain more weight if Mr Odinga agreed to make a presentation during the Thursday meeting accompanied by President Kenyatta.

“If they can join the delegation, it will show that the country has begun the healing process,” said an MP from Nyanza region.

In return, for backing the defefral push, Cord leaders could demand that the government abandon the Motion passed by both the Senate and National Assembly calling for Kenya to pull out of the Rome Statute.

The opposition may also ask for an effective local mechanism to be set, like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa to heal the wounds of the 2007/8 post-election violence; as well as activation of a local judicial process.

“It must be made clear that Kenya must remain a state party to the Rome Statute and any reforms to the ICC should be presented during the state parties meeting in New York on November 20th,” said another MP.

The Bill, which will establish the truth and reconciliation team, MPs said, should incorporate a compulsory compensation package for victims of the violence.

Figures of between Sh10 million and Sh5 million for relatives of those who were killed and Sh5 million for those severely injured are being discussed among MPs.

-nation

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