BBC News 27 May 2013
The African Union (AU) has accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of “hunting” Africans because of their race.
It was opposed to the ICC trying Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity, said Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
The AU would raise its concerns with the UN, he added.
Mr Kenyatta, who was elected in March, is due to be tried in July.
He denies the charges, which arise from accusations that he fuelled violence after disputed elections in 2007.
Analysts say the charges bolstered his campaign in this year’s poll, as many voters saw the trial as interference in Kenya’s domestic affairs.
Speaking at the end of an AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Mr Hailemariam said African leaders had expressed concern that out of those indicted by the ICC, “99% are Africans”.
“This shows something is flawed within the system of the ICC and we object to that,” he said.
The ICC had been formed more than a decade ago to end the culture of impunity, but “now the process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting”, Mr Hailemariam said.
It was “chasing” Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, despite the fact that the rival Kalenjin and Kikuyu ethnic groups, who had fought after the 2007 election, had come together to vote for them in the March poll, he added.
“The AU is mandated by the assembly [of the AU] to take care of this issue, to present to the UN the core of this matter,” Mr Hailemariam said.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were on opposite sides in the 2007 election, after which some 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 people fled their homes.
The trial of Mr Ruto, who faces similar charges as Mr Kenyatta, was due to begin this month but it has been postponed.
A new date is yet to be set.
The ICC insists that it acts impartially, and says it intends to press ahead with the case against Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir attended the summit, in defiance of an ICC warrant for his arrest.
The ICC has charged him with genocide over the conflict in Darfur.
He denies the charge, and accuses the ICC of being a tool of Western powers.
Around 300,000 people are estimated to have died in Darfur since 2003, according to the UN.
Earlier this month, Kenya’s government wrote to the UN Security Council, asking for Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr Ruto’s trials be halted.
The prosecution was “neither impartial nor independent”, said the letter, signed by Kenya’s UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were the “glue” that held the country together during the March poll, the letter added.
The UN Security Council is able to defer ICC cases for up to 12 months.
The deferral can be renewed indefinitely, but the Security Council cannot order the court to drop a case.