Ban Ki Moon hints UN may halt ICC cases

Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon

The United Nations has sent a signal of giving in to pressure by the African Union to stop the cases Kenyan leaders are facing at the International Criminal Court (ICC), The People has reliably learnt. This came about as it emerged that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon personally called all the African Heads of State attending the AU extra-ordinally summit in Addis Ababa on Saturday, to prevail upon them not to pass a resolution to withdraw from the Rome Statute, promising each that he would push for dialogue at the Security Council over their demand. The mood at the AU African hall in Addis on Friday and Saturday had been for en masse withdrawal of African member states from the Rome Statute.

However, high ranking diplomats and AU officials told The People in Addis Ababa yesterday that the tone changed to giving the Security Council and ICC until November 12, 2013 to make a ruling on the Kenyan cases, after Moon made his high level lobbying. Withdrawal by Africa which has 34 member states in the Rome Statute could deal a fatal blow to the ICC. One AU official said Moon made a promise that he would raise the African grievances with United Nations Security Council. The Security Council meeting is scheduled to be held in November with the main agenda being the threat posed by the African states to pull out. Previously the Security Council has largely brushed off the call to cause the ICC to halt the Kenyan cases, but AU sources said the tone is highly bound to change, following the ultimatum.

“Moon called each of the attending Heads of State pleading with each not to endorse the resolution to pull out of the Rome Statute and promising to have their grievances addressed,” said a top source who did not wish to be named as he is not authorisied to speak for AU. The Heads of States and government appeared to have heeded Moon’s plea as the agenda to pull out was put on hold until after another summit scheduled to be held in late November, that will assess the response to the ultimatum. The summit, to be held in Addis Ababa, will have the sole agenda of discussing the next course of action should the Security Council fail to address the issues raised during the weekend. Reports from Addis claimed the UN Secretary General did not call the Sudanese President Omar El Bashir, who has an ICC arrest warrant issued in 2009. Yesterday, Sudan expressed its frustration with the failure by the African Union Summit to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

The summit meeting which ended on Saturday agreed on a resolution stating that no sitting African Head of State should appear before an international court until they leave office. Members states made it clear that should their concerns be ignored, total withdrawal will not be negotiated. Sudan formally complained over the stand taken at the AU summit with her Foreign Minister Ali Karti stating, “The AU summit decision did not meet our aspirations of withdrawing from this neo-colonialism tool, but it’s a positive step in the right direction.” “The summit has delegated to demand the ICC to freeze the arrest warrant against President Omar Bashir, but we have nothing to do with this appeal to the ICC by the African leaders, because our declared stance is not to cooperate with the ICC and not to deal with it,” the minister said. “The absence of the signatories from the meetings has weakened the movement towards the withdrawal,” he added. Sources said there were three proposals on the table for the Heads of State Summit, namely; Withdrawal from the Rome Statute; deferral or stoppage of the Kenyan cases; a push to reform the ICC.

There has been a hue and cry among the AU leaders that the court has not been fair to the African continent. Indeed, no person less than the President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, acknowledged that the ICC should constantly review its engagements. While calling for a regular session of the 122 state parties to be held next month at The Hague, Ms Intelmann admitted the court has faced several challenges discharging its duties of rooting out impunity. She said several state parties had expressed their wish to address issues of concern with fellow member states. The Rome Statute was created to avert any mass slaughter of human beings by any regime. Its overall aim is to rid the world of atrocious massacre of people like the Nazi Holocaust, the Rwanda genocide, the killings in Sierra Leone, the DR Congo, Liberia, Sudan and lately in Kenya after the disputed 2007 presidential election.

The ICC is also a court of last resort, that takes up cases when local mechanisms fail to provide justice for victims of mass killings and other atrocities. The pullout debate is expected to take a new dimension after a member of Parliament yesterday vowed to introduce a motion seeking a local resolution to postpone the trial until Uhuru and Ruto serve their term. Kasarani MP John Njoroge opposed the prosecution of the two leaders in a foreign country, saying it ridicules Kenyans who elected them in a competitive and democratic election. The legislator pointed out the requirement to have them physically present at The Hague could distract the Jubilee from their effective management of national affairs.

“They must be allowed to lead the country in the consolidation of peace, reconciliation, reconstruction, democracy and development as per the will of the Kenyan people, expressed in elections in March this year,” said the MP.  “The passage of the motion that I intend to file in Parliament this week will make it official that no sitting president or vice president should ever be charged or tried at The Hague based court,” he said The MP who spoke after attending a fund-raiser to complete the construction of St Francis Catholic Church in Kasarani called on leaders from Cord to support his cause to maintain the dignity of the country. – The People