Arusha, November 1,  2013 (FH) – The trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, which had been due to start on November 12, has been postponed until February 5, 2014, according to a press release from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity committed during violence that followed elections in December 2007.

“Today, 31 October 2013, Trial Chamber V(b) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to postpone the trial’s commencement in the case against Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta to 5 February 2014,” says the ICC press release. “The Chamber noted that both the Defence and the Prosecutor are in agreement on postponing the trial date until February 2014.”

The postponement had been requested by Kenyatta’s lawyers. The Prosecution accepted that “certain factual matters raised by the Defence merited further investigation and submitted that additional time would allow it to present its evidence, namely witnesses’ testimony, in a logical and coherent sequence”.

The Chamber nevertheless urged both sides to “accelerate their preparation in order to ensure that no further postponements are required”.

This postponement will likely see Kenyatta pursuing efforts to avert trial altogether. 

In accordance with an African Union (AU) decision, a delegation of African ministers is currently in New York to try and persuade the UN Security Council to ask the ICC to suspend charges against Kenyatta and his Deputy President William Ruto.

The Security Council can suspend ICC trials for up to a year under Article 16 of the Rome Statute which created the ICC.

The African delegation -- with foreign ministers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Senegal, Namibia and Uganda -- called on the council to use its powers to suspend the case for a year.Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who led the delegation, said the ICC trials risked destabilizing Kenya, AFP reports.