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Uhuru-ICCPRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta will be accorded full diplomatic protocol by the Dutch Government if he travels to The Hague next week, but his visit “would be treated as private”.

In an exclusive interview with the Star, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nairobi said Uhuru would be accorded VIP treatment and would be received at the airport by officials of the Dutch Government.

“The Netherlands Government under the Rome Statute facilitates the work of the International Criminal Court,” the Embassy’s First Secretary (Political), Stijn Janssen, told the Star.

Among other things, this means that if the ICC judges issue a warrant of arrest for any of suspect, the Dutch Government would quickly enforce it.

She however said that Uhuru would be accorded similar treatment to other heads of state on private visits.

“His Excellency President Kenyatta will be received as any other head of state on a private visit to The Netherlands. His visit will be treated as a private visit of a head of state to an intergovernmental organization,” she pointed out.

The full diplomatic treatment for heads of state comes with such trappings of power as being driven in convoy, complete with outriders.

On his visits to The Hague, Deputy President William Ruto is usually accorded security from the Royal Military Police and the Dutch capital’s superhighways are occasionally cleared for his convoy.

Like Ruto, Uhuru would be received at Schiphol Airport by Kenya’s Ambassador to The Netherlands, Makena Muchiri, and her deputy, George Kwanya.

But that is the furthest his trappings of power would go.

As he enters the ICC courtroom, Uhuru would momentarily forgo the privileges which he enjoys as head of state.

This means that his security detail, including a clique of advisers that are always by his side, would be confined to the public gallery.

Even his wife Margaret, if she accompanies him to The Hague, would be required to follow the proceedings from the public gallery, peering at him through soundproof and transparent one-way glass.

MPs who would most likely travel with the President would be subjected to tough security checks that involve removing belts, wallets and even heavy jackets or overcoats.

ICC Outreach Coordinator to Kenya Maria Kamara said Uhuru would be treated with “utmost respect, like all the other accused persons”.

Last year, the judges ordered Uhuru and Ruto’s defence teams to stop using their official titles of President and Deputy President respectively during their filings to the Court.

“As a preliminary matter, the Chamber notes that, in recent filings, including the one currently under consideration, the Kenyatta defence refers to Mr Kenyatta repeatedly by using his title of President,” the judges noted in a ruling.

“In the circumstances, the Chamber does not consider the use of this title appropriate in filings in this case. The Chamber, therefore, directs the Kenyatta defence to refrain from including Mr Kenyatta’s official title in its filings”.

If he honours his date with the judges, Uhuru would make history as the first head of state to make an appearance as an accused before The Hague-based tribunal.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC, is on the run from its jurisdiction and has never appeared before the Court.

– the-star.co.ke

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