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Kenya’s Odinga Backs Cooperation With ICC Probe

Kenya has “no option” other than to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court’s probe into post-election violence almost three years ago that left 1,500 people dead, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said.

Attempts to set up local courts to try perpetrators of the violence, sparked by a disputed presidential election in 2007, failed after members of parliament voted against proposed legislation, Odinga said today in a meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, according to an e-mailed statement from the premier’s office.

“We tried to set up a local tribunal, but members of parliament rejected it,” Odinga said, according to the statement. “That is how the envelope ended up with The Hague and we have no option but to cooperate with the ICC process.”

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Hague-based court’s chief prosecutor, said he plans to present charges next month against as many as six Kenyans who allegedly instigated the clashes.

Two months of fighting stopped after President Mwai Kibaki created a coalition government with Odinga, the then-opposition leader.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who helped mediate Kenya’s power-sharing agreement, gave the ICC a secret list with the names of alleged ringleaders in addition to boxes of evidence in July last year.

The government still plans to set up a domestic tribunal to try suspects, Odinga said. Changes to Kenya’s courts and the attorney general’s office, promised in a new constitution enacted in August, will help “win the confidence of the people of Kenya and the international community and handle suspects,” according to the statement.

Kenya is a signatory to the Rome Statute that created the global war crimes court.

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