NAIROBI: Kenyan lawmakers were on Thursday to debate pulling out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in an angry snub of The Hague-based tribunal ahead of next week’s trial of the country’s vice-president.
Should Kenya choose to leave the ICC—the first country potentially to do so—it will be more of a symbolic vote of defiance and would not affect upcoming trials of the East African nation’s leadership, since legal proceedings have already started.
On Tuesday, Vice President William Ruto will be in The Hague to face three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly organizing 2007 to 2008 post-election unrest that killed at least 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000.
Ruto’s trial comes about two months ahead of that of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces five charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and deportation.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto have said they will cooperate fully with the court and deny the charges against them. Also due to appear in The Hague is radio boss Joshua Arap Sang, accused of inciting violence.
Many Kenyan politicians have branded the ICC a “neo-colonialist” institution that only targets Africans, prompting the debate on a possible departure from the Rome Statute of the ICC.
“Any law in this country or internationally like the Rome Statute can be repealed and can be amended,” said Asman Kamama, one of the lawmakers supporting a pull-out.
“It is not cast in stone and we want to be the trail blazers in the continent.”
The Jubilee Coalition of Kenyatta and Ruto dominate both Kenya’s National Assembly and Senate.