President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday launched a scathing attack on the International Criminal Court and Western powers saying they had teamed up to humiliate African leaders, exactly one month before the start of his trial.
While addressing the African Union extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the President accused the court of performing on the “cues of Europeans and American governments” against the sovereignty of African states.
And in what could be a major diplomatic victory by the Jubilee coalition, the African Union resolved that President Kenyatta should not show up for trial at the ICC on November 12 before the request to adjourn his case is addressed.
“What the summit decided is that President Kenyatta should not appear until the requests we have made is actually answered,” said Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus after a special AU meeting.
“This elected leader should lead his country,” he said.
The President described the court as a “toy of declining imperial powers,” which has subjected him and his deputy to humiliation and stigma.
TRIGGER ARREST WARRANTS
The tone and strong language of the speech and attack of the court is likely to trigger debate on whether the President will attend the November 12 trials.
However, the AU resolution thrusts Kenya’s two principals in a delicate situation because the Rome Statute allows the court to trigger arrest warrants in case of non-cooperation, with Kenya then running the risk of diplomatic isolation. (EDITORIAL: Siege mentality against the ICC unfortunate)
“The ICC has been reduced into a painfully farcical pantomime, a travesty that adds insult to the injury of victims. It stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers,” President Kenyatta said, alluding to previous statements which have termed the ICC process as “race-hunting”.
“It is the fact that this court performs on the cue of European and American governments against the sovereignty of African States and peoples that should outrage us. People have termed this situation “race-hunting”. I find great difficulty adjudging them wrong,” he said.
He charged that the court was biased towards Africans and violated its founding principles.
“We would love nothing more than to have an international forum for justice and accountability, but what choice do we have when we get only bias and race-hunting at the ICC?...If so, what justice can be rendered by a court which disregards our views?” said President Kenyatta.
The Kenyan President added that African countries had made sacrifices for their independence and asked foreign powers to respect their sovereignty.
“Like other African countries, Kenya did not achieve its independence with ease. Blood was shed for it.”
President Kenyatta accused world powers who sponsor the ICC of double standards saying they were hesitant to take action against those responsible for crimes committed in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.
The President also accused the court of teaming up with western powers to block him and his running mate Mr William Ruto from ascending to the presidency before the March 4 elections and undermining them after election.
This was in apparent reference to statement by the prosecution that Kenya should appoint an interim deputy president while Mr Ruto is attending trials.
“The Office of the Prosecutor made certain categorical pronouncements regarding eligibility for leadership of candidates in Kenya’s last general election. Only a fortnight ago, the Prosecutor proposed undemocratic and unconstitutional adjustments to the Kenyan Presidency,” he said.
The President and his deputy appear before the court as free men under conditions set by the judges, which compel them to among other things refrain from interfering with witnesses or engaging in activities that could injure the search for justice for the 2007/2008 violence victims. (READ: President Kenyatta hits out at the West over ICC: Speech)
He described western powers as the key drivers of the ICC process saying that they had warned of consequences in case the Jubilee coalition candidates won.
“These interventions go beyond interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign State. They constitute a fetid insult to Kenya and Africa,” he said.
The chorus against his election, added President Kenyatta, was led by the ‘USA, Britain, EU, and certain eminent persons in global affairs. “It was a threat made to Kenyans against electing my Government.”
The president said despite the fact that he and his deputy, who are both facing crimes against humanity charges at The Hague had fully cooperated with the court, the prosecution was still subjecting them to “humiliation and stigma”.
“I cannot narrate quite accurately the calculated humiliation and stigma the prosecution has inflicted on us at every turn, within and outside the proceedings. It is all consistent with a political agenda, rather than a quest for justice,” he said.
'FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE'
He said the prosecution has sought to present him as a “fugitive from justice” who is already guilty of the crimes he has been accused of committing.
“For five years I have strained to cooperate fully, and have consistently beseeched the Court to expedite the cases. Yet the gratuitous libel and prejudice I have encountered at the instance of the Prosecution seeks to present me as a fugitive from justice who is guilty as charged,” he said.
“All I have requested as President is to be allowed to execute my constitutional obligations as the forensic side of things is handled by my lawyers,” he said. (READ: African leaders tell ICC not to try heads of state)
He spoke as deputy President Ruto said the Jubilee government will not condone interference with the country’s sovereignty by “foreigners” yet it has been fully mandated by Kenyans to take charge.
Speaking at Teldet IDP camp in Trans Nzoia, Mr Ruto said the country and her African counterparts have the capability to solve their own problems without foreign help.
“I and the president have a responsibility to solve our country’s problems because we were mandated by Kenyans through our election in to office,” he said.
Mr Ruto spoke when he issued Sh154.4 million to 383 families towards the closure of the camp.
The deputy president said Africa has come of age to soldier on in its socio-economic development agenda without necessarily requiring aid.
“You are all aware that African heads are meeting in Ethiopia and we are saying that we have the capability as a continent to solve our own issues since we know our role,” said Mr Ruto.