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Africa

UN rejects Africa Union request to stay Kenyan leaders' trial

The United Nations Security Council has rejected an African-led initiative to delay the International Criminal Court's trials of Kenya's president and deputy for one year.

The decision to postpone the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto for up to a year was rejected by the 15-member Security Council on Friday (15.11.2013).

On the initiative of Rwanda, the African Union tabled a resolution to stay the trials of the leaders, but failed to get the necessary nine 'yes' votes required for it to be passed.

Seven members, including Russia and China, voted for a draft resolution approving the move, while eight membercountries, including France, the US and Britain, abstained. Resolutions require nine votes in favor and no vetos by any of the five permanent council members for them to be approved.

Delegates at the United Nations Security Council

The UN decision could mean Kenya refuses to cooperate at all with the court

African Union representatives had requested the UN to defer the trials to give the government an opportunity to deal with the aftermath of the Nairobi mall attack that killed 67 people in September.

"It is time to see whether the Security Council truly cares about the interests of Africans, considering that Africans have made this request as one," Kenyan presidential spokesman Manoah Espisu said ahead of the vote.

'Unusual request'

Mark Ellis, executive director at the International Bar association in London, told DW the appeal to stay proceedings was "a very unusual request."

President Kenyatta had successfully rallied African leaders to condemn the International Criminal Court as an institution unfairly targeting Africans, Ellis said., "The court is struggling at the moment with the conflict that has emerged from Africa, because countries perceive the court to be one-sided in its interest in bringing to justice those from Africa, but ignoring some of the perpetrators from some of the other countries," Ellis added.

Kenyan men from the Luo tribe armed with machetes and rocks

Both Kenyan leaders have been charged with crimes against humanity after the 2007 violence

All eight cases currently before the court involve Africa, four of which were requested or referred by the African nations themselves.

Leaders charged

The ICC, based in The Hague, charged Kenyatta and Ruto with crimes against humanity following violence after Kenya's 2007 elections, when 1,200 people died.

Kenyatta, who was elected to the presidential office in April this year, despite the charges against him, is also accused of sanctioning rape and other inhumane acts carried out by a criminal gang known as the Mungiki which is reportedly under his direction. Both men deny the charges against them.

Ruto's trial began in October, while Kenyatta's trial is expected to start in February after being delayed for a third time.

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