TRC on the cards for Kenya

2013-10-13 14:01

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Zuma suggests reconciliation process at AU summit

Kenya could look to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission process as an alternative to its leaders standing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

President Jacob Zuma told the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday that South Africa had used this model to resolve its problems after the apartheid government was replaced with a democratically elected one in 1994.

Zuma met his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday morning ahead of the summit, which subsequently decided that serving heads of state should not stand trial in international courts while they were in power.

Following the AU’s extraordinary two-day summit in Addis Ababa yesterday, AU chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn said: “The South African problem was solved because they used political solutions, reconciliation and legal (processes).

So we are saying for Kenya, unless this package is implemented, nothing can be achieved using the victim-suspect drama. Of course the victim should be supported but by using the simplistic victim approach, we could actually destabilise Kenya.

“You know this region is actually one of the most unstable and our leaders should focus and solve its problems,” he said.

“We don’t want Africa to be destabilised. We are looking for a comprehensive solution that looks for security and peace.”

Desalegn said he was “disappointed” with the strong views expressed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who called on the AU not to walk out of the ICC.

Kenya had reportedly earlier lobbied AU member states to withdraw from the ICC because of the court’s insistence on continuing with the prosecution of Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto.

The AU did not call for a withdrawal but instead for the trial against Kenyatta and Ruto to be halted.

At the close of the summit yesterday, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told heads of state: “We have

underscored that sitting heads of state and government should not be prosecuted while in office.

“And we have resolved to speak with one voice to make sure that our concerns are heard loud and clear.”

The AU states attending the summit unanimously expressed their “serious disappointment” in the ICC, accusing it of a “selective approach” towards Africa.

The AU said an injury to Kenya could be an injury to all its member states.

Ghebreyesus said: “This issue is not only Kenya’s concern. It is indeed a serious issue for all of us on the continent, with far-reaching implications.”

He said the trial of the Kenyan leaders “infringes on the sovereignty of Kenya and undermines the progress achieved thus far in the country’s reconciliation and reform process”.

AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told reporters that Kenyans had elected Kenyatta and Ruto to lead the country with full knowledge of the ICC case against them.

“Kenya needs their attention. The security situation is still fragile,” she said.

“It would be their problem if Kenya slides back into violence, then you have the two leaders being away (at the ICC).

“So I don’t think anything there is supporting impunity,” she said, adding that the AU would use legal principles to ask for a deferral of the trial.

The AU will set up a contact group composed of five members from each region to consult with the UN Security Council, particularly the permanent five nations, about the concerns of the AU in its relations with the ICC.

It wants a deferral of the trials of the Kenyan leaders as well as Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute.

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