Kenya 'opposes' leaving ICC

PM says government will continue membership of international criminal court despite MPs passing a motion to pull out.

    More than 1,200 people died in the violence that followed elections in 2007 [AFP]

    The Kenyan prime minister has said that his government is opposed to leaving the International Criminal Court (ICC), and that trials of high-profile suspects involved in the country's post-election violence in 2007 will go ahead at The Hague.

    "It is said clearly that even if you are to pull out ... the process takes one year and does not affect cases which are ongoing," Raila Odinga told local media on Thursday, referring to six Kenyan political figures named by the ICC prosecutor.

    Some politicians want the suspects to be tried in local Kenya courts.

    "The government is not pulling out of the ICC process because this will be an exercise in futility."

    On Wednesday, Kenyan members of parliament passed a motion urging the government to withdraw from the Rome Statute that established the ICC.

    "MPs are entitled to it [debate motions], they are venting their anger and frustration, that's how it should be seen, but that is not the position of the government," he said.

    Fears of instability

    An ICC trial may destabilise Kenya's fragile coalition, formed by Mwai Kibaki, the president and prime minister Odinga. The coalition is designed to end bloodshed that followed the disputed presidential polls of December 2007.

    Three cabinet ministers, the cabinet secretary and a former police chief were among the six men named last week by the ICC as masterminds of the post-election violence.

    Kenya's justice minister has said the government is not bound by the vote in parliament, and that the next step for the sponsor of the motion would be to draft a bill for debate in parliament to seek to pull the country from the ICC.

    More than 1,220 people died and 350,000 were displaced in the violence that followed the general election, severely damaging Kenya's reputation for stability in the turbulent Horn of Africa region.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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