Addis Ababa - African leaders will debate the continent's
"relationship" with the International Criminal Court at a special
summit on 11 October, officials said on Friday, amid growing opposition to the
The 54-member African Union has accused The Hague-based ICC
of singling out Africans for prosecution and has previously called for the
court to drop crimes against humanity trials of Kenya's leadership.
"They will discuss African relationship with ICC,"
the deputy head of the AU's executive branch, Erastus Mwencha, himself a
Kenyan, told AFP.
Diplomats say member states of the court, which was founded
primarily to try genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, are expected
to discuss a possible united pullout from the ICC.
African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have
ratified the Rome Statute, the court's founding treaty, which took effect on
July 1, 2002.
Mwencha said the cases of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
and his deputy William Ruto were not specifically earmarked for discussion,
saying only that the "agenda is very broad".
Kenyatta and Ruto, as well as former radio boss Joshua Arap
Sang, face crimes against humanity charges for their alleged roles in
orchestrating ethnic violence after disputed 2007 elections. The violence left
at least 1 100 dead and more than 600 000 homeless.
Last month, Kenyan lawmakers voted on a motion to withdraw
recognition of the court's jurisdiction.
Any move by the AU to leave the ICC's Rome Statute will have
no effect on the current trials, and pulling out is a lengthy process that must
be done by nations on an individual basis.
The pan-African bloc in May accused the ICC of
"hunting" Africans, and has requested that the cases against Kenyatta
and Ruto be transferred to Kenya.
The trial of Ruto and Sang is already under way, and
Kenyatta's trial is set to begin in November. The three have pledged their co-operation
with the court and maintain their innocence.
The ICC maintains that it is not targeting Africa as a
continent, pointing out that many of the cases under investigation in Africa
were referred to the court by the countries themselves.