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Kenya rallies UN support on ICC case

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BensoudaKenya will use the UN Security Council to rally support in its bid to have the case against Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court dropped.

Multiple sources within the country’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations said that deferring the case had been ruled out by the UN Security Council.

This was on the grounds that Mr Ruto’s trial at The Hague was not a threat to international security.

Instead, they advised that the government target the Assembly of States Parties’ (ASP) meeting slated for November to push for the withdrawal of the case.

Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN, Mr Macharia Kamau, confirmed that the African Union had submitted to the Security Council its position regarding the case.

He said he was waiting for it to be slotted for discussion during one of the monthly meetings of the top world body’s organ.

TWO-PRONGED APPROACH

Mr Kamau explained that the case was being fought on two grounds — the legal procedure, which was being followed at The Hague, and the technical side, which the government had targeted the the UN.

“The reason for going to the UN Security Council is to influence the public opinion of countries who are members of the Assembly of States Parties.

“These are the constituents of the ICC Court and the judges will have to think twice if their constituent was making noise against their decisions,” he explained in New York.

He argued that Kenya had focused its eyes on the ASP meeting, where decisions affecting the operations and the conduct of the court are taken by the oversight body.

“We will not go for a deferral of the Kenya cases because we already did so when President Uluru Kenyatta was facing similar charges.

“They were categorical that deferrals only take place when there is a threat to peace or an emergency which was not in our case,” he said.

He went on: “The way the United Nations operates is a little bit complicated and people have to understand that you cannot just walk into somebody’s office and hand over a petition or a letter. You have to approach it in a manner that is provided for.”

INCLUDE RUTO’S CASE

This came after President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who chairs the African Union (AU), was expected to convince the UN Security Council to include the case against Mr Ruto on its agenda for this month.

It was also expected that one of the African presidents would have mentioned the case in their speeches to the UN General Assembly to give it prominence. No one did.

On Saturday, a 13-member committee of the AU met at its headquarters next to the UN headquarters in New York and mandated President Mugabe to push for the inclusion of the push to defer the case against Mr Ruto on the grounds that the ICC court was applying its rules wrongly.

Chaired by Ethiopia’s foreign affairs minister, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the committee also resolved to use the floor of the UN General Assembly to push for the deferral of the case facing Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir.

“The chairperson of the African Union and President of Republic of Zimbabwe should request the United Nations Security Council to inscribe on its agenda, the request for the deferral of the proceedings against President Omar Hassan Bashir of the Sudan and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya,” they said in the recommendations.

The committee, which was established during the last AU meeting in June in Johannesburg, South Africa, agreed to mobilise as an African team to lobby members of the UN Security Council on the need to suspend the cases facing Mr Ruto and President El Bashir until the next ASP meeting.

“The Committee will engage with Members of United Nations Security Council and particularly the Permanent Members on the deferral requests as well as other concerns of the African Union on its relationship with the International Criminal Court,” they said.

TRIAL CHAMBER’S DECISION

The latest move was triggered by the ICC Trial Chamber judges’ decision four weeks ago allowing Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to use recanted testimonies of hostile witnesses as evidence.

A quick sequence of decisions and applications followed, among them Ms Bensouda’s closure of her submission in Mr Ruto’s case, which sent panic in Kenya.

The judges argued that they were applying Rule 68 of the Rome Statute that was agreed on by the ASP in 2013.

As the diplomats were pushing for the withdrawal of the case, President Kenyatta continued to lobby member states of the ASP to support Kenya’s bid to have the case against his deputy withdrawn.

On Wednesday, he met Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean who visited him at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where he was staying.

Dr Gonsalves assured President Kenyatta that his country would stand with Kenya on the international front.

The two leaders discussed Kenya’s plan to amend a controversial rule of the ICC at the upcoming Assembly of States Parties.

President Kenyatta argued that Rule 68 was adopted with the understanding that it would not be applied retroactively to jeopardise the defence of Kenyans facing cases at the ICC.

Dr Gonsalves is the third leader from the Caribbean who has met with President Kenyatta on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

On Sunday, President Kenyatta held talks with the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr Gaston Browne, and the President of Guyana, Mr David Granger.

-nation.co.ke

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