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Kenya to vote on ICC withdrawal

03 September 2013, 15:17

Nairobi - Kenya's parliament was recalled on Tuesday to debate ending membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC), ahead of a crimes against humanity trial of the vice-president starting there next week.

Parliamentary Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso issued the order for the "special sitting of the assembly", with parliament to meet on Thursday.

However, even should Kenya choose to leave the ICC - the first country potentially to do so - it would not affect upcoming trials since legal proceedings have already started.

On Tuesday, the ICC trial opens of Vice-President William Ruto on three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly organising 2007-2008 post-election unrest that killed at least 1 100 people and displaced more than 600 000.

Ruto's trial comes some two months ahead of that of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces five charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution, deportation and other inhumane acts.

Trail blazers

Lawmakers are expected to debate and vote on a possible departure from the Rome Statute of the ICC, following a request from the senate's majority leader Kithure Kindiki.

"Any law in this country or internationally like the Rome Statute can be repealed and can be amended," said Asman Kamama, one of at least 30 lawmakers supporting Kindiki's petition.

"It is not cast in stone and we want to be the trail blazers in the continent."

The Hague-based court was set up in 2002 to try the world's worst crimes, and countries voluntarily signed up to join.

A formal request for withdrawal would also need to be submitted, a process that could take several months.

Kenyatta's trial opens in The Hague on 12 November.

Deny charges

Both Kenyatta and Ruto have said they will co-operate fully with the court. They deny the charges against them.

Radio boss Joshua Arap Sang will stand trial alongside Ruto, also on crimes against humanity charges.

The 2007 elections were marred by allegations of vote rigging, but what began as political riots quickly turned into ethnic killings and reprisal attacks, plunging Kenya into its worst wave of violence since independence in 1963.

Kenyatta and Ruto were elected in March in peaceful polls.



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