Zuma defends AU decision on ICC

2013-11-06 22:12
President Jacob Zuma (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma (GCIS)

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Cape Town - A decision by the African Union (AU) to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to defer cases against sitting heads of state was not made to shield African leaders from prosecution, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.

Replying to questions in the National Assembly, Zuma said the decision was based on "Africa’s quest for an equitable world order".

Zuma said he supported the views of several heads of state on the continent, who had stated that Africa was being unfairly targeted by the ICC.

"It is also based on the need to cement hard-won peace and stability in areas which have been ravaged by conflict," Zuma said.

The AU decision was not meant to create an impression that certain leaders were above the law.

"The African Union is committed to equality before the law and to fighting impunity, hence the process of expanding the mandate of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which would help us promote finding African solutions to African problems," Zuma said.

Prosecuting sitting heads of state at the ICC could disrupt governance, and have a negative affect on peace and stability in countries previously wracked by violence.

Zuma was of the opinion that this decision would not lead to sitting leaders extending their terms of office, as suggested by opposition parties.

"The African Union has its own instruments for promoting the adherence to democratic principles, such as the charter on good democracy, elections and governance and the peer review mechanisms."

The prosecution of African leaders could have unintended consequences.

"What we are guarding against is the situation where countries that had moved to a semblance of stability suddenly regress due to a vacuum that would be created when leaders are taken away to stand trial," Zuma said.

Zuma supported a request sent to the UN Security Council asking that cases against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto be deferred.

Kenyatta and Ruto face trial for crimes against humanity in connection with violence in the country after the 2007 elections.

Read more on:    un  |  au  |  icc  |  uhuru kenyatta  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  parliament 2013

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