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Why African leaders stand by Uhuru and Ruto over ICC cases

By Stephen Mburu and Xinhua
African Union leaders have accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of reported unfairness in handling the cases involving President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.


The hearing for the charges against President Uhuru in on November 12, while that on Deputy President Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang  is on September 10.
   But African heads of state and government have accused the ICC of carrying out flawed investigations against the three. The process, they argue, seems to just undermine Kenya’s presidency.
   The AU wants the ICC to either drop the charges or refer the matter to Kenya, arguing the country now has a strong judiciary to handle the cases.
The three are required before The Hague-based court to answer charges of crimes against humanity committed during Kenya's post-election violence in 2007/2008. The bloody violence left about 1,300 people dead and thousands injured and displaced from the homes.
   Former ICC chief prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo had initially taken six Kenyans to the court but three were released for lack of enough grounds to commit them to full trial. They are former Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and the chairman of the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) Henry Kosgey.
   The ICC has already allowed Ocampo’s successor, Fatou Bensouda, to prefer more charges against the three.
        


   But African leaders have asked the ICC to drop the charges.
   While winding up the annual African Union (AU) Summit in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa, on M ay 27, African heads of state and government, almost to a man, accused the ICC of being used by the West to harass African leaders. The Summit also mandated the AU to take charge of the process of ensuring the decision over the ICC issue was implemented.
  “The ICC process that has been conducted in Africa has a flaw. The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity but now the process has degenerated into some kind of race-hunting rather than the fight against impunity," said Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the AU chairman and Ethiopian Prime Minister.
   "What does the ICC need? The ICC should not be chasing Africans. Ninety nine per cent of the indictees are Africans. It does not mean Africa is operating out of impunity!" said Mr Hailemariam.
   The AU boss said the ICC should take note of the political reconciliation in Kenya, which led to the peaceful elections on March 4, when Jubilee presidential candidate, Mr Kenyatta and his running mate, Mr Ruto, were given the mandate to lead.
   AU commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said: "The ICC is not the court of the first resort. It is the court of the last resort. The reformed Kenyan judiciary should be left to deal with the issue. Kenyans accepted the ICC because they did not have confidence in the Judiciary. That is why they did not take their last election dispute to the streets."
   The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said: "We are the only international organization which has the principle of fighting against impunity. We have the teeth to balance the overarching need for justice in line with the will of the people."
   He said the ICC should withdraw the case if it cares about its relations with African states.
   "For the ICC to continue enjoying the AU support, they have to listen to the legitimate concerns. The UN Security Council should also be responsive to the course," Mr Lamamra said.
   At the inauguration ceremony of President Kenyatta and Deputy his deputy Ruto in Nairobi on April 9, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the chairman of Intergovernmental Development Authority (IGAD), accused the ICC of attempting to manipulate Kenyans into not election the Mr Kenyatta and then his running mate, Mr Ruto.
   President Museveni, who spoke on behalf of the African heads of state and government, praised Kenyans for electing the two thereby rejecting “the blackmail by the ICC.”

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