Kenya to demand change to ICC rules over president's case

Kenya expected to demand rules change at the International Criminal Court to try to ensure its president does not face charges of crimes against humanity.

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THE HAGUE // Kenya was expected to demand change at the International Criminal Court yesterday to try to ensure its president does not face charges of crimes against humanity in the aftermath of an election in 2007 when 1,200 were killed.

Kenya, which has tried to halt the cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, was set to press a meeting of the ICC’s 122 members for an immediate change in the rules to say that heads of state do not have to attend trials.

Officials will also argue for a longer-term amendment to the founding treaty that would ban the prosecution of heads of state, a campaign which has become a rallying point in Africa, where many leaders say they are the target of an overzealous court in The Hague.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto deny the charges of fomenting violence after the election. Mr Ruto’s trial began last month, while Mr Kenyatta’s trial is due to start on February 5 after being delayed for a third time.

“Africa feels marginalised, like toddlers, whom the international community feels has never learned to walk,” Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday.

Last week, the African Union lost its bid to have the UN Security Council defer the cases for a year so the two could deal with the aftermath of an attack on a shopping mall by Al Qaeda-linked Somali militants.

Kenya, a key partner in the West’s fight against militant Islamists in Somalia, said the outcome highlighted the need for reform of the Security Council to prevent a few powerful nations imposing their will on the world.

Kenya will present its arguments at the ICC’s annual meeting, which started on Wednesday and has another week to run.