Historic vote as House debates International Criminal Court withdrawal

Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale will move the Motion that might see Kenya become the first nation to end membership of the ICC. [Photo: File/Standard]
By Geoffrey Mosoku

Nairobi, Kenya: A stormy session is expected this afternoon when Parliament reopens to consider a controversial Motion to end membership of the International Criminal Court.

And the High Court Wednesday declined to grant orders blocking President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto from travelling to The Hague for their trials, which have triggered the hostile parliamentary Motion.

The National Assembly was recalled on Thursday for the emergency session whose agenda has prompted bitter exchanges between members of rival coalitions ahead of this afternoon’s special sitting.

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As a pointer to the anticipated stormy debate, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has cut short his seven-day official trip in South Africa to preside over the session triggered by the impending ICC trials.

Muturi, sources told The Standard, was prevailed upon to return to the country from South Africa because the sitting is likely to be acrimonious.  His deputy Joyce Laboso had signed the notification recalling MPs on Thursday.

“The Deputy Speaker called Muturi Wednesday and after a lengthy discussion, the Speaker agreed to return home this morning,” said a source privy to the discussions.

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The Speaker was last night scheduled to leave Johannesburg, where he had led the Kenyan delegation to the annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) meeting that closes on Saturday.

Immediate withdraw

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Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale will move the Motion that, if followed through, could see Kenya become the first nation to end membership of the ICC.

“This House resolves 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 International Criminal Court, adopted by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on July 17, 1998,” reads the Motion published by Duale.

He cites a resolution of the Tenth Parliament to repeal the International Crimes Act and to suspend any links, cooperation and assistance to the ICC, as justification for the action.

Also, the Motion cites ratification of a new Constitution, “which has fundamental changes in the circumstances relating to the governance of the Republic” and the election of the President and Deputy President in the March 4 election “in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya.”

Leader of Majority in the Senate Kithure Kindiki has stated that he will petition Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro to recall the Senate too to discuss the Motion.

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This morning, CORD MPs will hold a Parliamentary Group meeting to discuss strategies to frustrate the Motion sponsored by the ruling Jubilee Coalition.

Former Prime Minister and CORD co-principal Raila Odinga will chair the meeting. “I don’t have a position on the ICC Motion and that is why we have called the PG to deliberate and come up with a common position. So I will not want to pre-empt what the PG will discuss,” Raila said Wednesday.

CORD-allied MPs Wednesday dismissed the agenda for the special sitting, saying it had a sinister motive.

The opposition party claims that the ruling coalition may be intending to ask Uhuru and Ruto to defy ICC, which they warned would place Kenya at loggerheads with the international community.

“What is the urgency of this Motion? Why couldn’t they wait for September 17th when the House resumes? ICC has been with us since 2008, why hurry now?” Homabay Women Representative Gladys Wanga queried.

Ms Wanga asked Jubilee to stop duping Kenyans on their Motion and warned that CORD will resist attempts to repeal the International Crimes Act, which is anchored in the Constitution. “Article 2 (6) of the Constitution is clear that any international treaty ratified by Kenya is part of the Constitution and Jubilee should stop pretending that their so-called tyranny of numbers will help them pass the Bill with a simple majority,” she added.

Travesty of justice

Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka warned that any attempt to repeal the International Crimes Act would be a travesty of justice.

“The Rome Statute was domesticated for posterity; it wasn’t because of post-election violence and history will judge the 11th Parliament harshly. Suppose a tyrant came to power and decided to kill his people, where will Kenyans run to?” asked Onyonka.

The former Foreign Affairs Assistant minister added that the “ICC horse has bolted” and any move by Jubilee to politicise the matter will only complicate the cases for Uhuru and Ruto, who should continue facing the cases in court.

The former Foreign Affairs Assistant minister added that the “ICC horse has bolted” and any move by Jubilee to politicise the matter will only complicate the cases for Uhuru and Ruto, who should continue facing the cases in court.

But Duale dismissed those claiming that they intended to incite the President and his deputy to defy the ICC, saying that over 100 MPs would accompany Ruto to The Netherlands next week.

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