x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Kenya may leave international court

Kenya's parliament has begun action to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, just before the country's president and deputy president face trial at The Hague for allegedly inciting post-election violence.

NAIROBI // Kenya's parliament began action yesterday to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, just before the country's president and deputy president face trial at The Hague for allegedly inciting post-election violence.

Citing the fact that the United States is not a member, the majority leader of Kenya's parliament yesterday argued Kenya should withdraw from the statute that created the ICC.

Adan Duale told a special session of parliament that two US presidents, Bill Clinton and George W Bush, both argued against the United States becoming a party to the Rome Statute, which regulates prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Mr Clinton and Mr Bush refused to join the ICC in order to protect US citizens and soldiers from potential politically-motivated prosecutions, Mr Duale said.

"Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of the nation of Kenya," he said.

The debate is a reaction to next week's trial at The Hague of the deputy president, William Ruto. He and the president, Uhuru Kenyatta, face charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly helping to orchestrate the violence in 2007 that killed more than 1,000 people.

Mr Kenyatta, who was elected president earlier this year, faces trial in November. Both leaders have said they will cooperate with the court.

A parliament vote was expected late last night. Members of the Kenyatta and Ruto alliance hold a parliament majority with about 191 out of the 349 legislators.

If parliament votes to withdraw from the Rome Statute, Kenya will be the first nation to do so, even though it is still obligated to cooperate with the court for the trials.