Kenya seeks UN help in crimes case

2011-03-09 10:42

New York - Kenya's vice president on Tuesday met the United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and top UN Security Council envoys to demand the suspension of crimes against humanity charges against six top Kenyan officials.

Kalonzo Musyoka held meetings in New York as the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued summonses to the senior allies of President Mwai Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga, over the deaths of up to 1 500 people in unrest after a disputed presidential election in 2007.

Kenya has formally requested that the Security Council use its powers to suspend the case for one year to allow the six - who include a deputy prime minister, another minister and a former police chief - to be handled by Kenyan courts, diplomats said.

But the western powers on the Security Council - Britain, France and the United States - have made it known that they do not believe a suspension would be appropriate.

"This message has been given to Mr Musyoka during meetings here," said a diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

South Africa wants the Security Council to at least listen to the Kenyan case.

African delegations on the 15-nation council "have been mandated to explore how best we can ensure that at least the council considers this request" said South Africa's UN envoy Baso Sangqu.

"In this case when a member state, such as Kenya has done, writes to the council, South Africa believes it is its right to be heard," he said. "What decision it takes after consideration is up to the council."

Security threat

Article 16 of the ICC's charter allows the Security Council to ask for a one-year suspension of a case if there is a threat to international peace and security. The western powers say there is no security threat however.

The ICC summonses, issued in The Hague, accuse the six of masterminding the violence in 2007-08 and orders them to appear before the court on April 07.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, sacked education minister William Ruto, former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali, the head of Kenya's public service Francis Muthaura, Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey and radio executive Joshua arap Sang are all accused of crimes against humanity.

They were formally named as suspects four months ago.

Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 27 2007 general elections in which then opposition chief Odinga accused Kibaki of having rigged his re-election.

Political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, who launched reprisal attacks in Kenya's worst violence since independence in 1963.

Odinga is now prime minister in a national unity government.