December 22, 2010 / 8:44 PM / 7 years ago

MPs pass motion urging Kenya to withdraw from ICC

* Motion not binding but bad day for Kenya-justice minister

* Kenya not yet compelled to pull out of ICC

* ICC named cabinet ministers as violence masterminds

NAIROBI, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Lawmakers passed a motion on Wednesday urging Kenya to withdraw from the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) in a bid to block trials at The Hague of post-election violence suspects.

The vote does not compel Kenya to quit the ICC, but is an initial victory for the sponsor of the motion, legislator Isaac Ruto, who wants the six suspects named by the ICC as architects of the post-election violence in 2008 to be tried in Kenya.

The justice minister, who opposed the motion, said the government was not bound by it, and the next step is for Ruto to draft a bill for debate in parliament.

Three cabinet ministers, the cabinet secretary and a former police chief were among the six men named last Wednesday as suspected of being behind the fighting that rocked Kenya after disputed presidential elections in December 2007.

Ruto, the motion’s sponsor, is allied with, but not related to, William Ruto, the suspended higher education minister, who is among the six suspects. William Ruto has been suspended from his duties to fight a corruption case.

Parliament rejected a previous motion by Ruto on Tuesday on the grounds that it had been poorly drafted.

The most prominent name on the ICC prosecutor’s list was that of Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta.

Charges include murder, forcible transfer of population, political persecution, torture and rape.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo said parliament had let down the country by passing the motion.

“This is very unfortunate, it seems the MPs sadly personalised the reasons for pulling out of the ICC. All is not lost. It (motion) will still have to be made into a Bill, which will then also be debated,” he told Reuters.

“Also if Kenya is to pull out, we must let the 139 ICC members states know... I feel very sorry for the ordinary Kenyan, we have gone backwards.”

More than 1,220 people died and 350,000 were displaced in the mayhem that followed the disputed December 2007 election, severely damaging Kenya’s reputation for stability in a turbulent region. (Reporting by George Obulutsa and Wangui Kanina; writing by James Macharia; editing by Tim Pearce)

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