By Jacob Kioria
The fate of Africa’s future engagements with the International Criminal Court will be known Saturday when the AU summit considers the draft strategy proposing a collective withdrawal from the court.
Foreign Affairs Ministers endorsed the draft Friday setting the stage for yet another bruising confrontation between Africa and The Hague based court.
African leaders have accused the ICC of ignoring Africa on several issues including its opposition to the application of rule 68 against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.
The outcome of the deliberations the 26th Ordinary African Union Assembly on the draft strategy proposing for a mass withdrawal of all African nations that are signatories to the Rome Statute is anxiously awaited.
The draft adopted by Foreign Affairs Ministers on Friday could shape the future engagements of the African continent with the ICC which African leaders accuse of being aloof and targeting Africans only.
Kenya has been in the forefront lobbying for the continent to consider a withdrawal should the court ignore their concerns. The Foreign Affairs Ministers committee was tasked with developing a comprehensive strategy including a collective withdrawal with the bone of contention being the court’s interpretation of its powers seeking to compel state parties to forcibly compel witnesses unwilling to testify at the ICC.
The draft strongly cites the application of rule 68 that allows the use of recanted evidence against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang against the submissions of the African Union.
President Uhuru Kenyatta for the better part of the year 2015 was categorical that Africa needed to establish an African Judicial system that would deal with the issues the ICC deals with, terming it an African solution to African problems.
African nations in the draft have also accused the ICC Presidency, the offices of the Registrar and the Prosecution of being aloof and conspiring to favor civil societies during the submissions of the African Union in the Assembly of State parties meeting concluded last year.
The draft if adopted at the AU assembly will have to be adopted back in the individual countries and will see the process of withdrawal by individual countries.
Previous attempts by Africa to occasion a mass withdrawal ran into headwinds with countries like Botswana strongly opposed to a withdrawal or opposition to the ICC. The mass withdrawal will however not affect cases that are currently before the ICC.