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ODM softens stance on Hague trials

Tuesday March 22 2011

Fredrick Onyango | Nation From left, Margaret Wanjiru, Anyang’ Nyong’o, Ababu Namwamba along with other ODM party members at a past news conference. Members allied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga held a retreat to craft new strategies to deal with their opponents and decided to respond to issues raised by the people rather than engage in a war of words.

Fredrick Onyango | Nation From left, Margaret Wanjiru, Anyang’ Nyong’o, Ababu Namwamba along with other ODM party members at a past news conference. Members allied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga held a retreat to craft new strategies to deal with their opponents and decided to respond to issues raised by the people rather than engage in a war of words.  

By WALTER MENYA [email protected] and KEVIN J KELLEY Nation Correspondent in New York

ODM on Tuesday appeared to drop its tough stance on The Hague process as African countries threatened not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court on the Kenyan cases.

The Orange party said at a National Executive Council-cum-Parliamentary Group meeting chaired by Prime Minister Raila Odinga that it is prepared to push for the ICC cases to be handled locally if a credible mechanism is established.

“ODM reaffirms the party’s often stated position that in the event of a credible local tribunal, the ICC process should be referred. The party is prepared to sponsor a Bill to fast track this process,” said a statement read out by the PG secretary, Ababu Namwamba after the meeting.

The move comes only days after ODM wrote to the United Nations Security Council opposing the government’s campaign to have cases filed against the Ocampo Six deferred for a year to enable the establishment of a credible local mechanism.

However, the party was quick to point out during Tuesday’s press conference that such a credible local mechanism was not in place at the moment.

ODM’s about-turn came as a member of the AU Commission revealed that many African countries were considering refusing to cooperate with the ICC if the Kenyan cases are not deferred.

“By virtue of being a member who sits in the AU Commission where deliberations on the International Criminal Court take place, I can tell you for sure that some counties that are members of the Rome Statute are not taking the issue lightly,” Igad executive secretary Mahboub Maalim told a news conference in Nairobi on Tuesday.

He said many AU members were considering various options, including withdrawing from the Rome Statute or refusing to cooperate with the ICC on the Kenyan cases.

“I have heard members saying that they have ideological differences with the ICC,” he said.

He said many African countries saw the ICC process as being more of a political than a judicial mechanism.

The Igad boss accused the UN Security Council of casually treating Kenya’s request to defer the cases casually.

“They should be brave enough to call a substantive meeting and state their stand,” Mr Maalim said.

In New York, Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN Macharia Kamau warned that there was a likelihood of political violence in Kenya if the cases are not deferred.

Mr Kamau recalled that “a couple of weeks of violence in Kenya in 2008 had serious repercussions for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC.”

The same threat of “destabilisation” — this time as a result of the ICC cases — is what led Kenya to ask the Security Council for a deferral under Article 16 of the ICC’s founding treaty, Mr Kamau said, adding that Kenya also intends to move ahead with a direct appeal to the ICC under Article 19 of the Rome Statute.

Additional reporting by Peter Leftie and Brian Yongah