Kenya seeks AU’s help to defer ICC cases, again

FILE | nation
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka addresses the press at Wilson Airport lounge on March 26, 2011 on arrival from his two-day official visit to Equitorial Guinea and Gabon. He is with the minister for Nairobi Metropolitan (centre) and assistant minister for Heritage Wilfred Ombui.

Kenya has sought the intervention of African Union once again to help push through a request to defer the post-election cases at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

As he marked the conclusion of the second leg of the shuttle diplomacy, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka travelled to West Africa to brief the AU on Kenya’s deferral request.

So far, the first informal meeting the UN Security Council convened to discuss the request did not return a positive response for the government, with the US, France and UK opposing the request among others.

The government has asked for another meeting with the Security Council to present its case.

Mr Musyoka had last week travelled to Equatorial Guinea to brief President Obiang Nguema, who currently holds the AU chairmanship.

During the trip, Mr Musyoka also met with President Ali Ben Bongo of Gabon, which is one of the three African representatives at the UN Security Council.

He told the Sunday Nation that the President of Gabon expressed willingness to move Kenya’s request when the UN top organ formally convenes on Kenya while President Nguema promised to monitor progress at the Security Council.

“The AU chair informed me that he will be monitoring the developments at the Security Council on the Kenyan matter so as to report to the next summit of the AU when it convenes in his country in July so that Africa can pronounce itself on the matter at that point,” said Mr Musyoka on his arrival in the country on Saturday.

The first leg of the shuttle diplomacy was aimed at getting the support of African states ahead of the AU Heads of State and government Summit in Ethiopia in January while the second leg mostly targeted the 15 members of the Security Council.

“The Vice-President has returned from a trip to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to brief leaders of the two countries on Kenya’s deferral request at the conclusion of his mission as a special envoy of President Kibaki,” Mr Musyoka said through his press secretary Kaplich Barsito.

According to the VP, it was important to brief President Nguema who is the current AU chairman because Kenya has also presented to the UNSC the resolution of AU Heads of State and Government summit endorsing Kenya’s deferral request.

“Both countries were categorical that the Security Council and the international community need to support the setting up of a local judicial mechanism in Kenya to try the six individuals,” he added.

The VP reported that the leaders were of the opinion that the ICC should be left to play its complementary role as a court of last resort.

At the conclusion of this phase of his mission, Kenya now awaits a decision of the Security Council on the request, he said.

“As I conclude my mission I note with satisfaction that others within the grand coalition who were previously opposed to the idea of local trials have shown signs of supporting it. I welcome them to work to speed up the establishment of a local judicial process in order to restore the dignity and pride of our country.”

Local process

Mr Musyoka however said the government will carry on with its two-pronged approach that involves pursuing deferral through the UN Security Council subject to Article 16 of the Rome Statute; and also applying directly to the ICC for referral under article 19 once a local process is in place.

Mr Musyoka was accompanied by Nairobi metropolitan minister Njeru Githae and assistant minister for Heritage Wilfred Ombui in the West African trip.

On his part, Mr Githae said most African countries were keenly monitoring how the Security Council will treat Kenya’s case.

“It is the feeling of most countries in Africa who are members of the Rome Statute that they will reconsider their relations with the ICC if Kenya’s case is badly handled at the Security Council,” he told the press.