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Monday, September 21, 2020

AU celebrates Uhuru’s victory against Bensouda

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he AU leadership was celebrant of the Gambia-born ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to drop the charges against Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta, while renewing calls for withdrawal from the court. 

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“The victory for Kenyatta is victory for all Africa,” said the outgoing AU chairperson and President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz.

Mr Abdelaziz, who was addressing the opening session of the summit on Friday, underlined the urgency to operationalise the proposed Africa Court of Justice ‘to provide African solutions to African problems’.

And, his successor, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who has been elected new AU chair, on Saturday reiterated that Africa ‘must pull out’ of the ICC. 

Meanwhile, President Uhuru, in his speech, thanked the AU for supporting his efforts to get the ICC drop charges against him. He announced that his country would commit one million dollars to the establishment of the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights. 

He said: “Observe closely, and you will see that the court has unfortunately become ever more vulnerable to blatantly politicised designs. This new ICC poses a grave risk to peace and security not only in Africa, but to the whole world. Our experience underscores the necessity of amendments to the Rome Statute and serious reforms to the court. It must be able to live up to the expectations of its founders.  Since 2010, Kenya has made strong efforts to spur reforms. But these efforts, just like the proposals made by the African Union, have been resisted. 

“Our relationship with the ICC is an acid test of our continent’s place in the international community. Recall that our delegation of foreign ministers to the UN Security Council also encountered resistance to our message from a body that speaks often of supporting Africa’s leadership in seeking peace and security within its borders. Despite such unhelpful stances, we have the ability to craft appropriate and effective solutions. We have the right to chart our own course and correct our mistakes while staying accountable to our people. This was the burning conviction of our founding fathers, and it remains our cause today.  We cannot wait for reforms when we have the power, and indeed the duty, to take our destiny into our own hands.  Our continent’s attorneys general, justice and foreign ministers, and experts have crafted separate but interdependent mechanisms built to be responsive to the realities and needs of this continent. Today, we are poised to establish the African Governance Architecture, a broader African transitional justice policy framework, and an African Court of Justice and Human Rights.  I dedicate myself to their implementation in a way that ensures they are fully owned by Africa. To this end, Kenya has just signed the Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. I will transmit the instruments to our parliament for ratification.”

African governments have overwhelmingly signed up to the Rome Statute that establishes the ICC, but has criticised the court of being selective, targeting only Africans. 

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