Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto has left for The Hague to face the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. His trial begins Tuesday amid doubt over Kenya’s cooperation with the ICC.
Ruto is charged with playing a key role in the violence following Kenya’s 2007 election, which left at least 1,100 people dead and more than 600,000 homeless.
President Uhuru Kenyatta also stands accused but will remain in Kenya ahead of his trial in November. Joshua arap Sang, a radio boss who allegedly helped coordinate attackers, is already in The Hague.
Ruto has traveled to the Netherlands despite the passing of a motion by the Kenyan government to withdraw from the structures of the ICC – a move supported by fellow East African nation Uganda.
The motion was introduced after the ICC summoned both Ruto and Kenyatta to The Hague for a trial scheduled tentatively for November. However, the president stated firmly that both leaders would not be away at the same time.
One, but not both
Kenyatta said his government was “willing to cooperate and we have cooperated since 2010,” but would stop short of the ICC’s request.
“If you want us to continue to cooperate with the ICC process, let me make it crystal clear that when Ruto is at The Hague I will be here and when I am at The Hague he will be here,” the president told a prayer rally on Sunday.
The stand won support from Ugandan Deputy Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem, who told the news agency dpa that the ICC was showing an increasing bias against African nations.
“The ICC should stop targeting African leaders. It is selective against African leaders and others from underdeveloped nations. It does not act against rich nations in Europe and the US where leaders there have also committed atrocities,” Oryem said.
All eight country cases open at the ICC involve African nations, and Oryem’s sentiment has increasing support on the continent.
He did not rule out Uganda also withdrawing from the Rome Statute of 1998, which set up the court.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a press conference televised from The Hague that the decision on who was summoned and when lay at the feet of the court’s judges.
“Their presence here at the same time is a matter for the judges to decide, and not the prosecutor,” she said. “I believe the judges will at the appropriate time make the appropriate decision.”
(ph/mkg (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)