It has become a ritual — one that is neither edifying nor evocative of positive, collective feelings.
The war drums have been sounded and the loins have been girded. Kenyan taxpayers are supporting a delegation of over 50 ministers, parliamentarians and government non-governmental organisations — GONGOs — plus assorted so-called elders to attend the 14th Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute. Despite recent orders that overseas travel be constrained.
The head of the Kenyan mission in New York swung into action yet again, forwarding no less than two notes verbales to the ASP, demanding the inclusion in the agenda of two urgent Kenyan items. Assorted ministers were dispatched to bully other state parties into supporting their cause.
The national parliament, as though it didn’t have enough to focus on here, prepared a petition to the ASP. To signal its seriousness, it also drafted a one or two clause Bill seeking the total repeal of the International Crimes Act that domesticated the Rome Statute. Another belligerent, blackmail move: “Give us what we want or we’ll withdraw from the Rome Statute.”
Oblivious to how tired the rest of the world, barring its immediate neighbours, is of Kenya’s antics. Frankly, if Kenya wants out, it should get out. It can hardly be said to have been a constructive or other than self-interested state party. Its annual antics have become tedious, given the scope of atrocities the rest of the world is grappling with.
The state’s propagandists also swung into action to support the diplomatic offensive. Its columnists decried the supposed influence of genuine NGOs. Its social media trolls circulated manufactured e-mail exchanges supposedly emanating from these NGOs, making it seem like they are only in this to “fix” Deputy President William Ruto.
To pacify Kenya, as grown-ups do with children busy tossing their toys out of the pram, the decision was made to let it have its their agenda items. To air, to ventilate.
At issue? Two reasonable concerns that could be reasonably resolved. But why take the reasonable route when the unreasonable one is apparently so much more fun?
Kenya is concerned about the retroactive application of Rule 68 to the case involving William Ruto and Joshua Sang. Fair enough. But the matter is already under consideration by the Appeals Chamber. The ASP pronouncing on a matter already under judicial consideration would amount to political interference.
Kenya is also concerned about the manner in which the Office of the Prosecutor obtained its witnesses. Fair enough too. But the rightful mechanism to consider that complaint is the ICC’s Independent Oversight Mechanism. Not the ad hoc mechanism that Kenya wants thrown together on no legal basis at all.
Why is Kenya being so intransigent? Because what is at stake for its ruling coalition has nothing to do with the law. It has to do with tensions within the ruling coalition.
The demand from one hand being that the other hand do exactly what it did to “fix” the case involving President Uhuru Kenyatta. Or suffer the political (and other unspecified)onsequences.
Everybody knows this. Nobody is admitting to it.
L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes
SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN