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Friday, February 4, 2011

US refuses to support Kenya’s bid to defer The Hague 6 cases

The high point of Kalonzo's "shadow diplomacy"
The United States is opposed to a deferral of cases against six suspected masterminds of Kenya’s post-election violence. Kenya however got the support of the African Union to defer the cases at the continental group’s summit that ended in Addis Ababa on Monday.

US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, who is visiting Kenya, said on Thursday that his government would not support the deferrals, especially if they were meant to protect the suspects. “What is critical is to make sure accountability is achieved and impunity is avoided,” he said.

Mr Steinberg said the UN Security Council had not communicated with the US as one of its permanent members on the AU’s deferrals request. “The US feels strongly that accountability is a critical element of making sure Kenya can move forward and deal with the past as well as build a strong future,” Mr Steinberg said in Nairobi after he called on Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director Patrick Lumumba. He reiterated the same at a meeting with journalists at the US embassy in Nairobi. “Because the ICC is the mechanism available and which Kenya submitted to, that is what we support,” he said. China, also a permanent member of the Security Council, favours Kenya’s request.

President Kibaki has said he supports a local mechanism to try the suspects, but Mr Steinberg said the US would not back this unless it meets the standards for trying international crimes. The US official also met President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga separately and delivered a similar message.

Meanwhile, a group of organisations on Thursday held demonstrations in Nairobi to protest the decision by some MPs to pull out of the ICC. The civil society groups said the move by the MPs to vote to move out of the ICC process is an attack on Kenya’s sovereignty. “We very firmly state that we do not support the proposal to remove Kenya from the ICC” Ms Rosemary Tollo of Africa Centre for Open Governance said.

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