Some African countries are considering withdrawing from the Rome Statute en masse should Kenya's deferral request of the post election violence cases at the International Criminal Court fail, a regional body says.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) dropped the hint Tuesday as it lashed out at the United Nations Security Council for delaying the hearing of Kenya’s application for deferral.
“By the virtue of being a member who sits in the Africa Union (AU) Commission where deliberations on the International Criminal Court take place, I can tell you for sure that some countries that are members of the Rome Statute are not taking the issue lightly,” Igad executive secretary Mahboub Maalim told a news conference in Nairobi.
When asked what action the concerned members were contemplating, he said that withdrawal was one of the options which also include non-cooperation with the ICC on the Kenyan cases.
“It could be any but from the tone of the AU Commission, I have heard members saying that they have ideological differences with the ICC. This tells clearly that the cases that are developing are being watched by the AU.”
Mr Maalim said African countries perceive the ICC as being more political than a judicial mechanism.
The ICC, he said, has to put its act together if African states have to have confidence in it.
Kenya applied to the Security Council requesting a 12 month deferral of cases on the grounds that The Hague trials could incite violence and disrupt regional peace.
A similar request was unanimously approved by the Igad heads of state as well as the AU during the January summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The request has not been formally heard though the USA, United Kingdom and France, all permanent and veto-wielding members have opposed the request.
The Igad boss was not amused at the stance taken by the three countries. He also criticised the UN body for relegating African issues brought before it.
For instance, he said the request by the AU to the UNSC to impose a no-fly zone over the volatile Somalia has never found its way into the agenda.
Igad deems that no action has taken place on Kenya’s request since informal meetings have no basis on the final outcome.
Delay in formally debating the request was caused by governments who do not want to be seen to injure relations with Africa.
“They should be brave enough to call a substantive Security Council meeting and state their stand,” urged Mr Maalim.
The Igad boss was speaking in Nairobi during a meeting with local and foreign press.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo named Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta, head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, his Tinderet counterpart Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang as suspected masterminds of the chaos that left 1,333 people dead and 650,000 displaced.
The Ocampo Six are expected to make an initial appearance at The Hague based court on April 7 and 8.