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Africans Say Heads of State should not be Tried at ICC

A general view of the opening session of Heads of States and Government of the African Union on the case of African relationship with the ICC in Addis Ababa

Johannesburg – Africa has agreed that sitting heads of state should not be tried by the International Criminal Court where Kenya’s leaders are in the dock, ministers said before African leaders opened a summit on Saturday.Foreign ministers of the 54-member African Union also called for deferring the cases of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, after a meeting to discuss Africa’s relations with the court based in The Hague.

“It should be underscored that our goal is not and should not be a crusade against the ICC, but a solemn call for the organization to take Africa’s concerns seriously,” Ethiopian Prime Minister HailemariamDesalegn said in an opening address.Leaders meeting in Addis Ababa at the AU headquarters are expected to endorse the recommendations hammered out by ministers in Friday’s meeting that extended past midnight.

Following that session, Ethiopian Foreign Minister TedrosAdhanom said trying Kenya’s president and his deputy infringed on that nation’s sovereignty. The two men deny charges that they orchestrated a killing spree after a disputed 2007 election.Frustration with the ICC has been growing in Africa because the court has convicted only one man, an African warlord, and all others it has charged are also Africans.

The ministers did not call for a mass walk-out from the court’s jurisdiction, however. Officials previously said that idea would be on the agenda but it did not draw broad support among the continent’s 34 signatories to the court’s Rome Statute.Rights groups had urged African nations not to turn their backs on the court, which they say is vital to ending what they see as a culture of impunity in African politics.

Hailemariam told gathered leaders that the court and the U.N. Security Council had showed a “double standard” in the way it treated Africa and said earlier African requests for deferring cases had been ignored.”It is indeed very unfortunate that the court has continued to operate in complete disregard of the concerns that we have expressed,” he said. (Reuters)

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