Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cord resolves ICC trials proceed

PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI Moses Wetang’ula (left), Senator James Orengo (centre) with Cord party leader Raila Odinga (right) during a press conference at the Orange House on October 29, 2013.

PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI Moses Wetang’ula (left), Senator James Orengo (centre) with Cord party leader Raila Odinga (right) during a press conference at the Orange House on October 29, 2013.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LUCAS BARASA
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By BERNARD NAMUNANE
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The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy on Tuesday resolved that the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy at The Hague should continue as scheduled.

It rejected efforts by a section of its members to have its leader, Mr Raila Odinga, join the campaign to have the cases deferred.

A meeting chaired by Mr Odinga was reported to have been unanimous that Cord maintains the position it has always held on the 2007/8 post-election violence.

“Our position on ICC is very clear. We have not changed. In requesting for deferral of the two cases, the Jubilee Government should invoke the Rome Statute itself. Nothing else allows deferral,” Siaya Senator James Orengo who read a statement on behalf of Cord, said.

The President is scheduled to go on trial on November 12. The trial of Deputy President William Ruto on crimes against humanity charges is on-going. Kenya, with the support of the African Union, has launched a vigorous campaign to persuade the UN Security Council to postpone the trial for a year.

Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’ raised the ICC issue under “any other business” (AOB, pointing out that the media were signalling Cord might change its position.

According to those who attended the meeting and later spoke to the Daily Nation, at this point Mr Odinga, the Prime Minister in the last administration, explained to the meeting why the ICC was coming up.

Mr Odinga, who returned on Sunday from a week-long tour of the US where he was promoting his book, said while he was away, he had learnt that some Cord MPs were supporting the push by the AU for the deferral of the cases at the ICC.

Sources at the meeting said former Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South, ODM), who has been spearheading the parliamentary initiative, was then asked to explain his push for the deferral. (READ: Kenyan minister in US as lobbying for deferral begins)

GRINDING TO A HALT

The sources said Mr Onyonka maintained the position taken by MPs who favoured deferral that the country was grinding to a halt and it was time politicians united to secure a one-year postponement of the cases.

Mr Onyonka, the sources said, argued that for the country to move forward, it would be better if Cord added more weight to the push for deferral by possibly Mr Odinga making a presentation during the Thursday meeting by the AU Council of ministers accompanied by President Kenyatta.

In return for backing the deferral push, Cord leaders could demand that the government abandons the motion passed by both the Senate and National Assembly calling for Kenya to pull out of the Rome Statute.

The AU Council of Ministers, led by chairman Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia is already in New York lobbying the UN Security Council for the deferral of the cases.

The AU has written a 20-page letter, which was submitted to the UN Security Council’s president of the month, Azerbaijani’s Agshin Mehdiyev by Kenya’s ambassador to the UN, Mr Macharia Kamau.

On Tuesday, the Nation learnt that most speakers at the parliamentary group meeting attended by members of the National Assembly, senators and National Executive Council members, said the ICC process should proceed.

Cord co-principal Moses Wetang’ula and Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama also attended.

Wiper Democratic party leader Kalonzo Musyoka did not attend as he was said to be out of the country.

Reported by LUCAS BARASA and BERNARD NAMUNANE.

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