By rushing to bastardise ICC, the AU is betraying Africa

By Timothy Bosire

Both celebration and outrage at last weekend’s African Union (AU) decree blocking President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto from attending their crimes against humanity cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are misplaced. The AU has a long, loaded history of cannibalising its mandate and objectives. Its 50 year history is replete with betrayal and inertia. No surprise!

Only government functionaries and jubilee members who voted for President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto celebrated the decree. Sycophancy and raw tribalism could be smelt. Those who respect constitutionalism and rule of law yawned.

This AU is Africa’s worst enemy. It has only excelled as “a talking shop” or an elite club for African despots ruining their countries through misrule. It has always served as a diplomatic jamboree for dictators and failed national leaders. Some even rose to serve as decorated chairmen of the organisation.

By rushing to Kenyatta’s defense while down playing the rule of law in Kenya and justice for the victims of the post election violence (PEV), the AU is replaying its shameful habit of promoting and sustaining impunity and bad governance on the continent. The ICC was created to specifically tackle this impunity problem!

 Historically, Kenya is one AU founder member whose earlier leaders spent decades undermining Africa’s solidarity with impunity. The regimes of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi spent the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s transacting business with Apartheid South Africa and Israel two countries which the continental body had embargoed for hurting the continent.

Secondly, the Kenyan ICC crisis is mostly self inflicted. Both President Kenyatta and the DP participated in Kenya government’s mishandling of an International community brokered truce following the PEV out of 2007-8 General Election.

It is the AU which sponsored the Dr Koffi Annan led Africa Eminent Persons Group that included Mrs Graca Machel, Mr Benjamin Mkapa and Dr Joachim Chissano and which brokered the peace through negotiations and a peace treaty presided over by the then AU Chairman President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania. Is AU now trying to abandon its baby?

If Kenya’s Parliament domesticated the Rome Statute and all Kenyans through a popular referendum inserted a clause in the Constitution making international law part of Kenya’s laws, then how can AU justify Kenya Government’s pleas for diplomatic backing to vilify and defy the ICC.  As things stand now, International law as domesticated in the supreme law of Kenya revokes immunity for any Kenyan (President) charged at the ICC for crimes against humanity. 

The two ICC indictees stood for high office and took charge of the presidency when fully aware that they were required to personally appear at the ICC. Interestingly, during election campaigns, the two cheerfully expressed confidence that they could comfortably run the country as they attend to the ICC cases using modern technology.

Their turnaround (through Parliament and diplomatic maneuvers) to claim it is against Kenya’s sovereignty or will undermine security and stability is a classic case of shifting goal posts. Theirs are deceptive acts of deliberately taking power with the sole purpose of using it to fight the course of justice.

More importantly, by its misguided decree the AU is encouraging the Kenyan leadership to forfeit its moral authority to lead citizens in observing and respecting their Constitution. This is a worse assault on our sovereignty than any other.

Can the AU prove to the world that Kenya will stop to exist in the absence of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto? Can the AU give us any viable and competent option to the ICC? Can the AU justify its reasons why justice for PEV victims should be delayed? Do AU leaders know that justice delayed is justice denied?

The writer is Kitutui-Masaba MP