Igad wants ICC to postpone case against Uhuru
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) has joined the African Union in demanding that the case against Uhuru Kenyatta at the ICC be postponed till after his term in office as president.
Igad Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim said on Wednesday that to take Mr Kenyatta to trial would be to “weaken a country and weaken a region” currently fighting the “radical disease” of Al-Shabaab extremists.
“We believe that this prosecution, should it be needed, must take place at the end of Uhuru Kenyatta’s Presidency. The evidence and witness statements can be taken and safely stowed away until then,” Mr Maalim said in a statement from The Hague, Netherlands.
“The International Criminal Court must act now to postpone these proceedings in the best interests of this global battle and the immediate struggle for peace and security in our region of East Africa and The Greater Horn,” he said.
Mr Maalim said he was at The Hague to “show … solidarity by the Greater Horn of Africa and Igad member states.”
“My presence here must not be misunderstood. There is no intent to interfere with or criticise the jurisdiction of the ICC, nor its remit to bring prosecutions where it sees fit.
“My presence here carries a single intent — to represent the need to preserve the collective strength of our region in our ongoing battle against radical insurgent terrorism in East Africa, a region that faces a clear and present threat to our security, in exactly the same way that has led to a coalition of forces currently bombing ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] in Iraq,” he said.
Mr Maalim, a Kenyan diplomat and former civil servant, heads the eight-member bloc that includes Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
It was created to address the security, trade and development issues of its members, although Eritrea is currently suspended.
Mr Kenyatta, who temporarily handed power to his deputy, William Ruto, on Monday, will be in The Hague on Wednesday to attend a status conference on his case.
He is facing charges of being “criminally responsible” as an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity.
They include murder, forcible transfer, rape, persecution and “other inhumane acts”.
The status conference is expected to address the emerging issues about the case, including accusations by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that the Kenyan Government had refused to release important information to prosecute Mr Kenyatta.
Igad’s comment follows the position of the African Union since October last year that “sitting heads of state and government should not be prosecuted while in office”.