Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked legislators to approve laws to withdraw Kenya out of the International Criminal Court’s founding Rome statute.
Speaking at a rally in Nakuru Afraha Stadium over the weekend, Kenyatta said no other Kenyan would go to the ICC”.
He promised to fast-track the process of withdrawing the country from the court.
“I will not allow any other Kenyan to be tried in a foreign country. My solemn vow is that never again will the country fight over political rivalry.”
He said ICC and Hague chapter is closed permanently and those who benefited should know that we are now a very peaceful and God-fearing country.
“It has been nine short years of the journey to healing. We have renewed our national covenant to live peacefully and we are fully aware that we wronged each other. We have forgiven each other.”
He said now is the time to heal the wounds of victims and compensate the remaining IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons).
Kenyatta’s motion to pull Kenya out of the ICC was slammed by Senator and ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs Moses Wetang’ula, who alleged a withdrawal would leave the nation vulnerable to organised criminals on politicians’ payrolls.
Speaking at Manyatta in Kajiado Central constituency, the Daily Nation quoted him as saying, “Kenya must remain in the Rome Statute to check the actions of some leaders”.
In September 2013, a Kenyan parliamentary vote supported the government’s proposal to withdraw from the ICC, but the African nation was plunged into a political crisis when six Kenyans – including Kenyatta – were charged with crimes against humanity for their alleged leading roles in 2007-2008 post-election violence that left more than 1,000 people dead and forced 600,000 from their homes.
All charges against Kenya’s president were dropped in December 2014, emphasizing the ICC’s difficulties in prosecuting high-level officials it has accused of atrocities.
The Kenyan ICC saga, meanwhile, looked like it had ended when the tribunal ended Deputy President William Ruto’s trial at the Hague at the beginning of April this year.
But on 19 April, ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah reminded Kenya it has the legal obligation to fully cooperate with the ICC including for the implementation of arrest warrants.
El Abdallah warned the government might face penalties if it fails to hand over three suspects – Walter Barasa, Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett – wanted by the court on charges of obstructing the course of justice in the case against Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.
Other African leaders including Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni have hinted at the need for the continent to pull out of ICC.