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African Union wants member states to pull out of ICC


African Heads of State at the start of the 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 30, 2017. PHOTO | ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER | AFP

By Aggrey Mutambo | Nation.ke

The African Union (AU) wants its member states to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This is a message to the international community to stop "harassing" Africans, the AU said.

The decision was arrived at in a closed session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday.

However, Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Botswana and Chad want to remain members of the court.

The summit adopted a withdrawal strategy which had been circulated to members beforehand but was overshadowed by Monday’s elections of AU Commission leaders.

The document says: “A growing number of African stakeholders have begun to see patterns of only pursuing African cases being reflective of selectivity and inequality”.

Member states also agreed to press for a reformed United Nations Security Council. African countries have no permanent representation in the council. The council can refer cases to the court, yet it is not a UN court.

The document is the brainchild of a ministerial committee formed after the African Union summit in Johannesburg in 2015.

At the time, South Africa had rejected an ICC order to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir wanted by the ICC for war crimes in Darfur.

South Africa has since notified the UN of its intention to withdraw from the ICC.

The committee is made up of foreign ministers of Kenya, Ethiopia, Chad, Burundi, Eritrea, South Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Sudan, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Senegal.

Kenya is one of the fiercest critics of the court and had proposed that it should be complimentary to domestic or regional judicial courts.

During the Addis summit, Kenya focused on campaigning for Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for AU Commission chairperson. She lost to Faki Mahamat of Chad, which supports the court.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale admitted the loss may have had something to do with Ms Mohamed’s criticism of the ICC. But he said Kenya will not stop pushing for reforms.

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