Author Topic: SA mum on continent’s possible exit from ICC  (Read 1595 times)

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Offline mayya

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SA mum on continent’s possible exit from ICC
« on: October 10, 2013, 23:12:44 PM »
SA mum on continent’s possible exit from ICC
by Nicholas Kotch , 09 October 2013, 06:46

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Picture: DIRCO

SOUTH Africa is refusing to show its hand ahead of Saturday’s special African Union (AU) summit on the International Criminal Court (ICC).

There are calls from some countries for the continent’s 34 ICC members to pull out en bloc in protest against the court’s alleged bias against African leaders. Kenya is helping to drive the exit campaign, spurred on by the prosecution of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, for crimes against humanity.

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane would not be drawn when she was asked on Tuesday to explain South Africa’s position.

"The summit will consider our participation as African countries in the ICC. Do I give you the outcome of the summit before it sits? No, I can’t," she said at a briefing in Pretoria.

The AU summit will be held in Addis Ababa on Saturday after foreign ministers meet the day before.

"South Africa is going to that meeting to participate, fully aware of the developments that are taking place, but having listened to genuine complaints," Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said. "We were there when the ICC was formed. We have all the rights as member states … to say hang on, is this exactly what we thought we were forming?"

In recent weeks, senior South African officials have suggested privately that the government may echo public disquiet with the ICC but will oppose an African boycott or withdrawal. That position may have shifted slightly after the African National Congress’s national executive committee urged the government not to break ranks with other African countries on the ICC issue.

Last month President Jacob Zuma said that it was not "in keeping" for serving African leaders to be obliged to attend every day of their trials at the ICC.

It was enough for them to enter their pleas and then return for the verdict, he said when asked about the Kenyan case.

Mr Ruto’s trial at the ICC in The Hague has already begun, and Mr Kenyatta’s trial is due to open on November 12.

The exceptionally grave allegations against them are that they incited ethnic violence after the elections of late 2007 and must share responsibility for the killings of at least 1,200 people.

Despite the noisy rhetoric coming from several African countries, others are keeping their counsel until the summit.

The stakes are particularly high for South Africa, whose international profile as Africa’s champion and its ambitions to gain a permanent seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council would be severely damaged, if not destroyed, by an exit from the ICC.

Coincidentally, and immediately after he returns from the Addis summit, Mr Zuma will receive a powerful ICC supporter, French President Francois Hollande, for a state visit on October 14 and 15.

Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said Africa’s position would be announced to the world soon after the summit. "Allow us to go, meet, discuss, exchange ideas and come out with the extraordinary summit outcomes. We will not hide them ."

In a speech on Monday, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan reminded his audience that Africans themselves had backed the ICC because they were sometimes deprived of justice in their own countries.