UN rejects bid to stop Uhuru Ruto ICC cases

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UN

The UN Security Council on Friday rejected an African Union demand to suspend the International Criminal Court trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

A resolution proposed by African states calling for the deferment was the biggest challenge yet to the trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto who face charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC.

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But the resolution got only seven votes, two below the number needed to pass in the 15-member body.

Eight council nations, all ICC members or supporters including Britain, France and the United States, abstained to ensure the failure of the resolution.

“We feel that the Assembly of States Parties [to the Rome Statute] is the right place to take the grievances,” said the United States ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, “But we have decided to abstain rather than vote no.”

Security Council rules stipulate that a resolution requires nine affirmative votes in order to be approved.

WITHOUT VETO

It was the first time in decades that a Security Council resolution has failed in such a way without a veto by one of the permanent members.

Article 27 of the UN Charter states that “decisions of the Security Council on substantive matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.”

Abstention has been used as a strategy by permanent members to avoid offending a state in question even when it still supports the opposition to a resolution.

The African nations, led by Rwanda, who proposed the resolution faced strong criticism for the challenge and the way it was forced upon the council.

Guatemala’s UN ambassador Gert Rosenthal said the attempt to suspend the trial was an act of “contempt” against countries that had sought to help Africa with peacekeeping troops and efforts to boost justice in the continent.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are accused of masterminding unrest after a 2007 presidential election in which at least 1,100 people died. Kenyatta and Ruto took office after an election this year.

Mr Ruto’s trial has started, while that of Mr Kenyatta is scheduled to get underway February 5 after being delayed three times.

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The China delegation abstains during a past meeting of the United Nations Security Council. PHOTO | FILE

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