African Nations Consider ICC Pullout During Kenya Trial

While Uganda and other countries have voiced their support of Kenya, four of Africa's most influential nations said they do not intend to leave the court.

Posted: 09/17/2013 04:00 PM EDT

With two elected leaders prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, Kenya has launched a full-scale campaign urging African countries to show solidarity by exiting the Hague-based court.

Uganda’s deputy foreign minister Okello Oryem told AP on Tuesday that several nations are set to discuss a possible exit at an upcoming summit of the African Union.

The trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, who has been charged with crimes against humanity along with President Uhuru Kenyatta, started last week in the wake of Kenya’s request to terminate its membership with the Rome Statue which established the ICC.

In May, the African Union called for an end to the prosecution of Kenya’s leaders and accused the court of “racial hunting,” claiming that African leaders are being targeted on a racial bias. Since opening in 2002, the international court has charged only Africans.

Reuters reports:

Uganda's junior foreign affairs minister Asuman Kiyingi told Reuters his country was unhappy about the way the ICC was "used by big powers to pursue certain selfish interests against African leaders." He said Uganda could consider withdrawing.

But such a move might not be unanimous. Officials from Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and South Africa, four of the Africa Union's biggest member states, told Reuters their governments had no plans so far to leave the ICC.

"It is clear the ICC needs to explore ways and means to fix its relationship with Africa, its biggest block of membership, otherwise many African states may follow the Kenyan move," AU Political Commissioner Aisha Abdullahi told Reuters by email.

ICC spokesman Fadi El-Abdallah said such pullouts would be a mistake. "Withdrawals would not serve justice nor the interests of victims," he said in a statement to Reuters. He was confident African states would remain signatories to the Rome Statute.

Read the full story here.

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(Photo: MICHAEL KOOREN/AFP/Getty Images)

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