Ruto back home as AU push to delay Kenya cases falters

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Deputy President William Ruto’s trial at the ICC resumes in his absence on Monday, amid strong indications that an African Union push at the UN Security Council for postponement of the Kenya cases is not going well.

An informal gathering of the 15 Security Council members shows that the AU request was unlikely to garner the nine votes needed for a resolution to be adopted.

Mr Ruto has waived the right to be present at his trial this week, agreeing to “voluntarily, knowingly and unequivocally and without reservation” be absent and to forego “every complaint and every appeal against any natural consequence” of his absence from the courtroom.

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The ICC Trial Chamber V (a) also granted Mr Ruto leave to be away from the courtroom on Thursday and Friday when he will be chairing a refugee and drought meeting in Nairobi.

Mr Ruto arrived in Nairobi Sunday to take charge of government affairs as President Uhuru Kenyatta leaves on a three-day official visit to South Africa Monday.

President Kenyatta will be out of the country until Wednesday. He is also expected in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, where he is scheduled to give a keynote address on the closing day of the African Media Leaders Forum, which opens on Wednesday.

In New York, lobbying by the Kenya and African Union delegation over the past few days seemed not to be making much progress.

Just seven of the UN security council’s 15 member-states, including permanent members China and Russia, appear supportive of the resolution being circulated by the body’s three current African representatives: Rwanda, Togo and Morocco. That is two votes short of the nine required for adoption of a resolution.

And any of the council’s five permanent members — Britain, France and the US, as well as China and Russia — can kill a resolution by exercising their veto power.

Britain and France, which have signed the treaty establishing the ICC, are expected to oppose the African states’ resolution.

The US, which is not an ICC treaty signatory but which often cooperates with the court, is also signaling opposition to the move to postpone the prosecution of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto for one year.

“We encourage Kenya and the African Union to continue to work through the ICC and the Assembly of State Parties to address their concerns,” a State Department official told the Nation in an interview.

Other opponents of a deferral have proposed that complaints about ICC proceedings should be presented to the 122 nations that are parties to the Rome Statute, which created the court. Representatives from the 122 countries are expected to meet in The Hague later this month.

Mr Kenyatta’s case is scheduled to start on November 12 but the ICC prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, has indicated that she is not opposed to delaying the case until February 2014.-nation

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