ICC allows DP William Ruto to join President Uhuru Kenyatta in hosting Pope Francis

ICC Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji

NAIROBI: The International Criminal Court Friday granted the Deputy President William Ruto his wish to meet Pope Francis when the pontiff jets into the country on November 25. The judges yielded to Ruto's request to be allowed to host the Pope in Nairobi. The court postponed the hearing dates of the cases from November 24 and November 25 to January 14 and 15 next year.

Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and his colleagues in the three-judge bench Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Judge Robert Fremr said the two dates in the middle of January next year were "the earliest possible dates following the Court's move to the permanent premises."

The two-paragraph decision delivered Friday means that the Deputy President will be in the country when the Holy Father makes his visit, and just like he did when the US President Barack Obama visited in July. DP Ruto will be in the government's entourage for the bilateral talks with the Pope.

The Pope's visit comes at a time when Ruto's allies have been holding prayer rallies in Nairobi to pray for his case to be dismissed by the ICC.

Ruto is charged with crimes against humanity due to the post-election violence in 2007, but the Deputy President and his lawyers have filed a 'No case to answer' Motion. It is the oral submissions that had been scheduled to coincide with the Pope's Visit.

The schedule of the Pope's visit to Kenya shows that he will arrive in Nairobi on Wednesday, November 25 evening and head straight to State House Nairobi, where he will spend half-an-hour with President Kenyatta and then meet Kenya's administration and all the diplomats in the country who have been invited to the meeting at the presidential residence.

The date with State House is because the Pope will not just be visiting as the Head of the Catholic Church in the world, but because he is also the Head of the Vatican State, the little city-state inside Rome, Italy that serves as the headquarters of the Catholic Church.

The Pope's apostolic five-day African tour will not just be in Nairobi but will take him to Uganda's House of Charity in Nalukolongo and a tour of a refugee camp and a meeting with Muslims in Central Africa Republic.
Though in Kenya and CAR, the Pope is scheduled to meet the respective Heads of State and Government, the Ugandan schedule is silent on whether the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will meet the Pope.