Kenya denies lobbying African states to quit Hague court

Foreign minister plays down prospect of untied action over human rights court


Kenya is not lobbying other African states to quit the International Criminal Court, its foreign minister said today ahead of an African Union summit set to discuss ties with the court.

Foreign minister Amina Mohamed played down any prospect of united action by African countries over the court, where Kenya’s president faces charges of fomenting ethnic killings.

Kenya’s parliament has voted to demand the government leaves the jurisdiction of the court in The Hague. Many other Africans have also voiced frustration that the ICC has so far only charged people from the continent.

But officials from several African states, including continental powers Nigeria and South Africa, have suggested there is no consensus to leave the court among signatories of the Rome Statute which established it.

“It is actually quite naive to think that 34 countries can come together with the sole aim of moving out of the Rome Statute,” Mr Mohamed told reporters in Nairobi ahead of Saturday’s summit in Addis Ababa.

“We have not asked anybody to support a walkout.” An African Union official had said in September, when the summit was announced, that leaders would decide whether African nations would withdraw from the court and said Kenya had been lobbying for support for that idea.

Mr Mohamed said Africa’s relationship with the court would be discussed at the summit, among other topics.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, face charges of fomenting ethnic killing after a disputed election in 2007. They deny the charges.

Mr Ruto’s trial has already begun and Kenyatta’s is due to start on Nov. 12. In May, the African Union backed a request by Kenya for the trials to be referred back to Kenya, on the grounds that the ICC hearings risked raising ethnic tensions and destabilising its economy.