Kenya will ask the United Nations Security Council to halt International Criminal Court cases against its president and deputy president for a year, after the African Union said serving leaders shouldn’t be prosecuted.
Leaders from the 54-nation African Union agreed at a summit on Oct. 12 that heads of state and other senior state officials should be granted immunity from international criminal trials during their tenure. The AU said that cases at The Hague-based court against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto should be suspended until they have completed their tenure in office.
“It was also decided that the president should not appear before the court until the concerns raised by the AU have been adequately addressed by the Security Council and the ICC,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Amina Mohamed told reporters today in the capital, Nairobi. “We hope the Security Council and the ICC will suspend the cases.”
She refused to directly answer questions about whether Kenyatta would attend the Nov. 12 start of his trial should the ICC move ahead on schedule. Ruto’s trial began last month.
Kenyatta and Ruto are accused of committing crimes against humanity linked to a disputed election in 2007 which led to violent clashes and the murder of more than 1,100 people. They both deny the accusations. The former political foes came to office in March to serve five-year terms and they are eligible to run for a second consecutive term under the constitution.
Kenya, backed by the African Union, is seeking a delay in line with article 16 of the Rome Statute, which allows a postponement of ICC proceedings for as long as a year, said Mohamed. All of the active cases before the ICC are against Africans, prompting complaints that the tribunal is unfairly targeting the continent.
Kenyatta, 51, is the second sitting president to be indicted by the ICC after Sudanese leader Umar al-Bashir, who is wanted for suspected war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s western Darfur region. He says he is innocent of the charges.