Kenya: MPs Vote to Pull Out of Hague Court
Key witnesses to the 2007 post-election violence reportedly gave details of how politicians and business people planned and mobilised youths to execute the deadly attacks in Eldoret and Naivasha.
Nairobi — Coalition of Reforms and Democracy (CORD) lawmakers walked out of the National Assembly during charged debate that saw their Jubilee counterparts overwhelmingly approve a Motion that sets the stage for Kenya’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.
The Motion comes barely five days before Deputy President William Ruto begins his trial for crimes against humanity at Hague. The move however has no impact on ongoing cases.
The Leader of Majority Adan Duale introduced the Motion but it was later amended by nominated MP Johnson Sakaja and seeks to introduce a Bill within the next 30 days to repeal the International Crimes Act (No 16 of 2008) and that the Government urgently undertakes measures to immediately withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC adopted by the UN Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on July 17, 1998.
Sakaja, who is the chairman of The National Alliance which sponsored the President’s bid, argued that what Parliament was doing was not tantamount to non-cooperation with the ICC.
“The reason for the Motion is that despite cooperation, the ICC has not reciprocated with respect and even appeals are denied,” he said.
CORD Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo instigated the walkout, after he categorically said that the opposition would not be party to the amendment and as if on cue CORD legislators walked out.
Duale in turn shepherd his coalition members to cross the floor of the House and take up the seats left vacant. He then rushed to the dispatch box and retorted, “The local owners of the ICC process are walking out of the House.”
The debate on the Motion had been turned into a shouting match between Midiwo, Duale and at times Speaker Justin Muturi joined in while trying to keep the contributions on track.
Midiwo who was the sixth contributor to the Motion survived being thrown out of the House despite refusal to withdraw and apologise for referring to Jubilee rivals as ‘thieves.’
Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau had requested the Speaker to push the Gem legislator to substantiate his statement.
“Is it in order for Hon Midiwo to continue addressing the House after calling us thieves?” Kamau asked.
Midiwo has said: “The institutions such as the Judiciary may be reformed but the office holders are thieves like you.”
In his contribution, Midiwo said they had not been informed of the real intention of the Motion, but had everything to do with the current trials.
Earlier, Duale told the House that his initiative was meant at aping former US President George W. Bush who withdrew his country’s membership to the ICC to protect his people.
He said that current trials facing Kenya’s leaders will be the first for a sitting President and his Deputy to be tried in a foreign land.
“The matter before us is a matter of great importance and it touches on the sovereignty of this nation.”
He assured MPs that a petition compelling President Uhuru Kenyatta to reveal the names contained in the secret envelope which was handed to the ICC by Kofi Annan will come to the House.
Duale led Jubilee MPs in taking shots at civil society group, AFRICOG as well as former mediator and UN Secretary General Annan.
They said that Justice Phillip Waki who chaired a commission probing the cause of the post-poll violence committed a “constitutional coup” by handing the envelope containing the list of suspects to Annan, a person “who had no constitutional jurisdiction.”
The Jubilee MPs questioned the role of AFRICOG in the ICC process, citing a letter the group’s executive director wrote to the courts opposing the deferral of the Kenyan cases to Arusha.
“What we have is a civil society which is not a signatory and a country called Kenya which is a signatory but without a voice,” said Duale.
Minority Leader Francis Nyenze who spoke before the walkout termed the Motion as ill timed and urged his Jubilee counterparts against contemplating a pullout from the Rome Statute because Kenya willingly signed and agreed to the terms.
“It’s not good for the country to be seen to be hostile to the court. The timing is poor and it would not be good for Kenya,” he said. “The cases that are ongoing will not in any way be affected by our decision here today.”
Nyenze faulted Duale for recalling the House for non-issues while there are more serious matters to discuss than the Rome Statute such as insecurity and the high cost of living.
Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang joined Nyenze in asking the House to handle the matter in a sober manner.
Legal Affairs Committee Vice-chairperson Priscilla Nyokabi said the committee was concerned about the trial calendar and the possibility of a power vacuum.
“The Legal Affairs Committee is concerned about impunity and justice for the PEV victims. We have proposed a Sh1 billion budget for a Special Tribunal with its own investigation division so that the cases can be tried in Kenya and a victim reparation programme,” she said.
The Motion was approved easily when put to vote.