Zuma joins AU ICC debate

2013-10-12 22:17
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Saturday took part in an African Union summit seeking to defer ICC proceedings involving the Kenyan president and deputy, said the presidency.

Among the summit's conclusions, it was decided that "Kenya should send a letter to the [United Nations Security Council] UNSC requesting the deferral...of the proceedings against the president and deputy president of Kenya," said the presidency in a statement, adding all African States parties would endorse the letter.

Zuma led a South African delegation, including International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane and Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe, to the extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa which was dealing with Africa's relationship to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyata and deputy Mr William Ruto are facing trial for crimes against humanity in connection to violence in the country after the 2007 elections.

They are currently dealing with problems back home after Nairobi fell victim to a terrorist attack at a mall.

The presidency said that the summit also stated its desire that serving heads of state or government, or anyone acting in such capacity, should not have charges from an international court or tribunal commenced or continued during their term of office.

The summit also endorsed the process of expanding the mandate of the African court of justice and human rights so that it could try international crimes such as war crimes, genocide and those against humanity.

The summit elected a group from the AU to set up contact with the UN security council to discuss concerns about its relationship with the ICC, "including the deferral of the Kenyan and Sudanese cases".

In a separate statement, issued by the office of the African Union Chairperson, the chair Haile Mariam Desalegn was quoted as saying if the request for a deferral of the ICC case was not granted, "Heads of State agreed to request postponement of the trial".

He said that statements made at the summit "helped to quash rumours that had been circulating that the Assembly meeting had been planned to prepare for a mass withdrawal of African Union member states from the ICC."

A total of 34 member states of the AU are members of the ICC.

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