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The United Nations Security Council votes February 26, 2011 on a resolution on peace and security in Africa. AFP PHOTO

The United Nations Security Council votes February 26, 2011 on a resolution on peace and security in Africa. AFP PHOTO

By BERNARD NAMUNANE bnamunane@ke.nationmedia.com AND KEVIN J KELLEY in New York kevinjaykelley@gmail.com

IN SUMMARY

  • Security Council will listen to Kenya and AU before deciding if the plea for deferral merits vote

The United Nations Security Council will on Wednesday decide whether to give serious consideration to a request by Kenya to delay the Hague trials.

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It has requested Kenya and the African Union, whose summit supports Kenya’s case, for an informal discussion on the basis of which it will decide whether to formally discuss the request.

“The Security Council cannot vote” on Wednesday, spokeswoman Anne Siddall said. “The council votes only in a formal meeting.”

The scheduled session at UN headquarters in New York does not qualify as an official Security Council meeting, Ms Siddall explained.

She said the gathering will take the form of an “interactive dialogue” involving the council’s 15 member states and representatives of Kenya and the African Union.

The meeting’s purpose may be to determine whether Kenya’s request for a 12-month deferral should be formally taken up by the council, which can meet at any time.

AU will likely be represented by its permanent mission to the UN, though it has also sent its Peace and Security Commissioner Ambassador Rantane Lamamra and Ms Bience Philomina Gawanas, its Social Affairs commissioner to beef up the team.

Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN, will lead the Kenyan delegation to the talks.

Kenya appears to have succeeded in making common cause with the African Union in its quest for deferral. ODM secretary-general Anyang’ Nyong’o has been in Addis Ababa, where the AU is headquartered, to present his party’s petition.

The Security Council president for the month of March, Chinese UN Ambassador Li Baodong, agreed to convene the session on the basis of a consensus among council members that Kenya’s plea deserved at least to be heard, said Ms Siddall.

The meeting will not be open to the press or public, the spokeswoman added. She said this type of unofficial, private forum allows Security Council members to “feel more comfortable about being able to express themselves more freely.”

Kenya’s deferral request exposes the deep divisions in the coalition government and there is more embarrassing wrangling on the international stage if the council decides to formally hear Kenya.

Even though the Security Council deals with states, and not political parties and civil society, the council has already received a letter from ODM opposing the request for deferral.

On Tuesday, the Party of National Unity wrote an angry petition of its own in which it accused ODM of embarrassing the country and its leaders of being the “true masterminds” of the violence that followed the election in 2007.

Attorney General Amos Wako confirmed receiving summonses for Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr William Ruto, Gen Hussein Ali, ODM chairman Henry Kosgey, Mr Francis Muthaura and Mr Joshua Sang yesterday and forwarded them to Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere for service.

The summonses had been handed over to the Kenyan embassy in The Netherlands by ICC Registrar Silvana Arbia on Friday.

President Kibaki and his Party of National Unity wants the cases against the suspects delayed for a year, arguing that Kenyan needed the time to put in place the judicial mechanisms to try the cases.

ODM, on the other hand, would like the cases to proceed at the Hague and accuses Mr Kibaki of seeking to extend impunity.

The ambassadors of western powers in Nairobi largely oppose the quest for deferral, seeing it as pointless and a delay of justice. They have argued that if the suspected masterminds of previous violence are not punished, the likelihood exists that there could be further violence in future elections.

Ambassadors of countries which sit on the security council have received a barrage of petitions from NGOs and political parties, opposing the deferral.

in its letter signed by secretary-general Kiraitu Murungi, PNU accuses its partner of politicising the ICC investigations and prosecutions.

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“This is a gambit calculated to ensure that leaders of this ODM faction — whose role as the premier masterminds of the 2008 violence — will never be called to account for their crimes or face justice itself having been curiously and conveniently omitted by (ICC prosecutor) Luis Moreno-Ocampo from the list,” the letter read.

Mr Murungi claimed that the ICC process is gradually losing popular support and said a local mechanism is the best means to justice.

“It is the politicisation of the Kenya reform process and usurpation of the ICC investigations and prosecutions by forces aligned to the ODM that have undermined the establishment of national judicial mechanisms,” said the letter.

The letter was addressed to heads of all embassies and high commissioners accredited to Kenya, the president of the States party to the Rome Statute Christian Wenawesser, heads of all UN agencies in Nairobi, representatives of the European Union and both local and international media.

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