PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Saturday advised Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta not to go to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague to answer to charges of crimes against humanity which he faces together with his deputy William Ruto, a stance likely to place the veteran leader on a collision course with the ICC.
In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba said the President did not mince his words over the ICC’s alleged intransigence, saying it was heavily biased against African leaders and Kenyatta could not reduce himself by appearing before it when no Western leader had been subjected to such treatment.
“What we are opposed to is for a sitting head of state to be hauled before the ICC. He (Mugabe) also made it clear that the model of the ICC is flawed. He advised Uhuru not to go and said Zimbabwe would back him. Robin Cook (former British Foreign secretary) is on record as saying no British leader would appear before the ICC. So where is the fairness there?” Charamba queried.
His statements came amid reports that Mugabe had dressed down United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the UN boss phoned him at the African Union (AU) Special Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in a last-minute bid to persuade African leaders not to pull out of the ICC.
AU member states convened the special summit to deliberate over withdrawal from the ICC after some countries, including Zimbabwe, accused the international court of alleged bias against African leaders.
According to Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, Mugabe was livid when Ban phoned him trying to persuade him to change his hardline stance and refusal to ratify the Rome Statutes, which gave birth to the ICC, without amendments to it.
“It is understood that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, a strong supporter of severing links with The Hague, reminded the UN boss that he has ‘no teeth’ to push for the amendments,” sources told the Daily Nation.
The leaders remained sharply divided over the proposal to withdrawal from the ICC with most Francophone countries allegedly opposed to the suggestion while Anglophone nations were pushing for a pullout.
Those reportedly pushing for ICC withdrawal included Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Algeria.
The Daily Nation reported that the UN chief phoned each of the presidents in attendance to persuade them against withdrawing from the ICC.
According to the Kenyan paper, Ban promised to use his position to amend the Rome Statute to bring on board the concerns that were being raised by the continent.
After failing to find common ground, the African leaders issued five demands to the ICC and its guarantor, the United Nations Security Council, to meet and pave the way for new relations with the court on crimes against humanity and high-level impunity.
They were also said to have warned that should their list of demands not be met by November 12, the date set for Kenyatta’s trial at The Hague, they would convene another AU Special Summit to make far-reaching resolutions.
Some sections of Zimbabweans were pushing for Mugabe to be taken to the ICC over numerous alleged atrocities, in particular the 2008 killings in the run-up to the presidential election run-off in which an estimated 200 mainly MDC-T supporters were murdered by alleged Zanu PF activists. Many more lost their limbs at the hands of suspected Zanu PF activists.