Kenya’s government said the International Criminal Court’s decision to summon six officials, including Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, sends a signal that the East African nation is a “failed state.”
The government’s challenge of the ICC’s jurisdiction to try the cases is a bid to “show the world that Kenya is a progressive, not a regressive state,” government spokesman Alfred Mutua told reporters today in Nairobi, the capital.
ICC judges, in a 2-1 ruling on March 8, ordered six Kenyans to appear before the Hague-based court next month as part of its investigation into post-election violence in 2008 that left 1,500 people dead and displaced 300,000. The fighting broke out after opposition supporters said a December 2007 presidential vote was rigged in favor of President Mwai Kibaki.
Calm returned after Kibaki signed a power-sharing accord with his political opponent, Raila Odinga, who was named prime minister. No one has been convicted for masterminding the attacks, following several failed attempts by lawmakers to create a special tribunal. Kenya enacted a new constitution in August that aimed to improve the judicial system.
“At that particular time in our country we didn’t have a new constitution, we had not started properly the reform agenda that is going on, we were still playing divisive politics,” Mutua said. “But things have changed now.”
The government plans to challenge both whether the ICC cases are admissible and if the court has jurisdiction over them, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, Attorney General Amos Wako and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said in a statement yesterday posted on the website of Kenya’s Office of Public Communication.
A Kenyan delegation appointed by Kibaki last week is urging the United Nations Security Council to defer the ICC trials for a year, while the country’s legal system can prepare to handle the cases.
The officials summoned by the ICC for April 7 include Kenyatta, who is also deputy prime minister and the son of Kenya’s post-independence president Jomo Kenyatta, Henry Kosgey, who resigned as Industrialization Minister in January, and suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto.
Others include the head of the civil service, Francis Muthaura, former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali and Joshua Arap Sang, a radio presenter. All six men deny the charges and have said they will cooperate with the ICC to demonstrate their innocence.