African bid for Kenya trials deferral fails at U.N. Security Council

African bid for Kenya trials deferral fails at U.N. Security Council
# 16 November 2013 04:47 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. An African bid to postpone the International Criminal Court trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, for one year failed on Friday when the U.N. Security Council did not pass a resolution to approve the move, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The 15-member Security Council was split - seven members, including Russia and China, voted in favor, while eight members abstained, including France, the United States and Britain. Resolutions need nine votes and no vetoes to pass. Britain, Russia, China, France and the United States wield veto power.

The African Union requested that the U.N. Security Council postpone the trials of Kenyatta and Ruto so they can deal with the aftermath of the Nairobi mall attack in September by the al Qaeda-linked group al Shabaab, in which 67 people died.

Kenyatta and Ruto face charges related to the violence after Kenya's 2007 elections, in which 1,200 people died. Both deny the charges and have tried to have the cases adjourned or halted. Ruto's trial began last month, while Kenyatta's trial is due to start on February 5 after being delayed for a third time.

"The failure to adopt this draft resolution, endorsed by the whole African continent, is a shame," Rwandan U.N. Ambassador Eugene Gasana, who led the push for a resolution, told the council. "Let it be written today in history that the Security Council failed Kenya and Africa on this issue."

The Kenyan cases have stirred an African backlash against the International Criminal Court and sparked claims that the U.N. Security Council does not take Africa seriously enough. African states put the resolution to a vote knowing it would fail.

"It has been insinuated that not joining the vote that favors the resolution is somehow an expression of ill will towards the African Union," said Guatemalan U.N. Ambassador Gert Rosenthal. "We find this view frankly offensive."

British U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant noted that the United Nations supports over 100,000 peacekeepers in Africa.

Western and Latin American council members believe the African concerns should be dealt with at the International Criminal Court and at a meeting this month of the Assembly of States Parties, which is made up of the 122 court members.

"We are disappointed that this draft resolution has been unnecessarily put to a vote in a way which highlights disagreements within the council, shortly before a meeting of the States Parties, the outcome of which, we hope, will be to reduce those disagreements," Lyall Grant said.

An Ipsos Synovate poll of 2,060 Kenyans showed on Thursday that 42 percent believe the International Criminal Court cases should continue, 2 percent thought they should be deferred, while almost a third wanted the trials dropped completely.

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