Arusha, November 16, 2013 (FH) – The UN Security Council on Friday rejected an African request to defer for one year the trials of Kenya’s President and Deputy President before the International Criminal Court (ICC). President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are charged with crimes against humanity in connection with violence that followed elections at the end of 2007. 

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Only 7 of the 15 Security Council members voted in favour of the resolution, including Russia and China. The 8 other members abstained, including the US, France and UK. Nine votes were necessary for the resolution to pass. It had not been expected to do so.

The African countries sponsoring the resolution based their arguments largely on Kenya’s key role in fighting terrorism in the Horn of Africa region. 

An attack claimed by Somali islamist rebels of Al-Shabaab, who are close to d’Al-Qaïda, left some 60 people dead in a Nairobi shopping centre in September.

Kenyatta and Ruto won a first round election victory in March, despite the serious charges leveled against them by the Prosecutor of the ICC. 

At an extraordinary summit in Ethiopia last month, African Union heads of state spoke out strongly against prosecution of sitting heads of state. They also resolved that Kenyatta should not attend his trial, which is now due to start on February 5, 2014. Ruto’s trial has been under way since September.