How UK came to Uhuru’s rescue at The Hague

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohamed (right) with other State officials at the World Forum Convention Centre in the Netherlands last week

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohamed (right) with other State officials at the World Forum Convention Centre in the Netherlands last week

Fresh details have emerged on how the United Kingdom (UK) government played a pivotal role in pushing the hybrid motions (excusal and use of video link) that saved Kenya at the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) meeting at The Hague.

While the Kenyan government had originally banked its hope on the African Union’s failed motion for immunity of serving heads of States to shield President Uhuru Kenyatta from prosecution, the video link motion that was approved was sponsored by Britain. The second motion on trial of the accused in absentia and partial recognition of Heads of State (rule 134) was sponsored by Greece and Guatemala.

Had the ASP meeting failed to pass any motion that was to the advantage of Kenya, the ICC had already pronounced that Uhuru attends court sessions in person.

It has emerged that an official at the British Foreign Office in London and another official at State House, Nairobi, played a key role in softening the Kenyan opposition to Britain’s video-link proposal.

“We had to make the President understand that resisting use of the video-link was not wise, especially if AU’s immunity motion was to be defeated. That would have exposed him because ICC had already said that Uhuru should be at The Hague in person,” said our source who sought anonymity so that he could speak freely on the subject.

History and International Relations expert Prof Macharia Munene says Britain changed its heart to protect its long-term interests in Kenya.

“They realised they have to change tack to protect their long-term interests,” says Macharia who lectures at the United States International University-Kenya.

The Chief Executive of the African Policy Institute (API) Prof Peter Kagwanja points out that from a security point of view, Britain has realised Kenya is pivotal to the stability of former British colonies on the African continent. He further notes Britain’s earlier move to abstain from voting during the United Nations (UN-Security Council) meeting, was because it had underestimated AU’s resolve on the ICC cases facing President Uhuru and his Deputy William Ruto

“Come the ASP meeting and Britain was careful not to push AU and Kenya to the corner. That is why it argued Uhuru and his deputy have extra-ordinary public responsibilities, leading to amendments of Articles 134, 68 and 100 that allows them not to attend ICC in person, use of video link and recorded testimonies not being used in the current cases,” he says.

Kiambu Senator Paul Wamatangi says Kenya’s matter was not a strategy but an issue of asking a friend to demonstrate his friendship or?else the friendship is reviewed.

Reacted angrily

He would therefore?expect the UK government to continue with the ties that they?demonstrated during the ASP meeting.

Speaking to The Standard on Sunday, Communications consultant and an ally of the President Tony Gachoka said he asked Uhuru to disregard “praise singers around him” and embrace the West in the best interest of this country.

“Following the defeat of the AU sponsored motion for deferral at the UNSC, the stakes ahead of the Assembly of State Parties could not have been higher for President Uhuru and his deputy. Unfortunately Jubilee leaders and powerful forces in State House took hardline positions that even saw a proposed motion of censure against the UK brought to Parliament. But in a game-changing move, London sponsored a motion for video link and together with Greece and Guatemala pushed through a hybrid amendment to Articles 68 and 134 of the Rome Statute. This is what saved Uhuru. The AU motion of immunity did not even make it to the agenda,” said Gachoka.

But Foreign Affairs Secretary Amina Mohamed has indicated Kenya wants to re-introduce the proposal to amend Section 27 of the Rome Statute to shield serving heads of states and government from prosecution.

“We have given notice of a Special Assembly of State parties to discuss the amendment of Article 27 on the immunities of heads of state and government. We expect such a meeting to be convened after the 90-day notice period expires in the first quarter of next year,” said Amina on Friday.

Gachoka said the motion of immunity is “bad in law and smelly in politics”.

He said that what happened at the ASP meeting was an international compromise on the Kenyan situation based on the current global geo-political re-alignment. “The support of Britain to Kenya at the ASP meeting was probably the most significant diplomatic move since the Mau Mau payout,” adds Gachoka.

The House of Commons had earlier debated the ICC case and the need for UK to stand with Kenya.

Jubilee leaders reacted angrily and threatened to sever diplomatic ties with the UK after it failed to vote in UN. Senate Majority Leader Prof Kithure Kindiki warned Jubilee leaders?will push President Uhuru to cancel the arrangement in which?British military trains in Kenya to protest UK’s stand on the ICC deferral bid.

When the House of Commons debated the ICC question in October, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and?Commonwealth Affairs Mark Simmonds had this to say, “The relationship between the countries today is one of partnership, shared mutual interests and shared concerns, through being members of the Commonwealth, through strong commercial security and through personal ties.”

-The Standard



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