Newscast Media NEW YORK—AU leaders may have decided against a mass withdrawal from the ICC, but confrontation is still in the air. As trial of President Kenyatta draws near, Kenyans are reacting with a mixture of defiance and resignation.
Kenya’s foreign affairs minister Amina Mohamed told the media in Nairobi on Monday that the International Criminal Court would have to wait “until after the president leaves office.”
President Uhruru Kenyatta’s trial on charges of crimes against humanity is due to start in The Hague on November 12.
Some Kenyans, like political anaylst Egara Kabaji, are clearly worried. “It basically means Kenya becomes a pariah state. Nobody will want to do business with us,” he told Deutsche Welle’s Nairobi correspondent James Shimanyula.
Lucy Mwangi, who sells chicken in Kariobangi on the eastern outsikirts of the Kenyan capital, said she didn’t suport Kenyatta going to ICC because it would be “unfair for Kenyans.”
At the AU summit, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda put forward a resolution urging for a withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the legal foundation for the ICC. This failed to obtain majority backing. Before the summit started, there was support for the ICC from political heavyweights Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana.
The AU’s deliberations were opened by the chairman of its executive council, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who branded the treatment of Africa by the ICC as “unfair and unjust.” He insisted that Kenyan President Uhruru Kenyatta should be allowed to “govern his country,” an apparent reference to his expected enforced absence from Kenya while he is in The Hague.
AU leaders want the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to defer Kenyatta’s trial for a year. The UNSC has the authority to do this under article 16 of the ICC’s Rome Statute.
Solomon Derso is an expert on the AU at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Addis Ababa. He told Deutsche Welle the UNSC would only agree to such a deferral when there was a threat to international security and that was not in evidence in the case of Kenya.
“I really don’t see any positive response coming from the side of the UN Security Council,” he said.
On examining the possible voting intentions of two permanent members of the UNSC, Harmen van der Wilt, professor of international criminal law at the University of Amsterdam, came to a similar conclusion. “It is well known that the UK and France are supporters of the International Criminal Court so they could say, well, we could veto the decision,” he told Deutsche Welle.
The AU recommended that as a last resort Kenyatta should simply refuse to appear at the court in The Hague.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media NAIROBI, Kenya—Somalia’s last two impediments are listed below:
Impediment #5: Political and economic instability due to lack of a legitimate Somalian government in the last 20 years, will certainly play a big role as the application is being considered. As mentioned earlier, South Sudan was encouraged to apply when it first got its independence, but now East African leaders are having second thoughts due to the political instability between the South and its northern neighbor Sudan.
Had Somalia not been a terror state, this impediment could possibly be waited out for it to correct itself. The problem lies with Al-Shabaab’s recent allegiance to Al-Qaeda making it an even more formidable force in the region, that could raise an army over time, and with adequate funding, take over the region and destabilize it. Both Kenya and Uganda have had their share of terrorist attacks and understand this reality.
One might ask where both Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda would get the numbers to form a fighting machine to destabilize the region. Well, if Somalia is accepted, Somalians will find it easier to move across borders from one country to another within the East African Community. The elements that may be more interested in destabilizing the region than promoting peace could then launch multi-regional attacks on the already-stable governments.
These numbers could also be harvested from sleeper cells within Kenya and Uganda. According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Kenya alone has over 479,000 Somalian refugees and the number is expected hit 623,000 by December 2012 as shown in this United Nations report.
Sleeper cells that really want to wreak havoc can cross borders freely as members of the EAC pretending to be refugees, and build their numbers until they have an unstoppable army recruited from the 600,000-plus refugees. In return for fighting, the fighters could then be promised land and property of their captives, and also part of the profits from the natural resources of the region. Eventually Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians could then become captive in the land of their forefathers being dominated by foreign invaders or occupiers.
If you look at Libya, it had the highest standard of living in all the Arab world, Africa and even most nations of Europe. This time last year, nobody would have imagined that a group of fighters with unsophisticated weapons called the Transnational Council, backed by Al-Qaeda, would remove Gaddafi from power and turn the once-prosperous nation into a wasteland. The black native Libyans (Tuaregs) are constantly being rounded up and caged like animals, and are forced to eat the green flag by their captors. If this could happen to Libya, there is no doubt that the same thing could happen to an East African country.
Impediment #6: Motive of wanting to join the East African Community may raise suspicions amongst East African leaders who would wonder why Somalia would want to be part of EAC yet Somalia is part of the Arab League. If the reason is for trade purposes then there is a lot more to benefit from oil-rich Arab nations than third-world East African countries. Somalia has been ruled by Islamist militias since 1991 therefore East African leaders would become suspicious about the true motives and intentions of Somalia wanting to join the EAC.
The most disturbing fear that leaders of East African may have is, since Somalia is run by Islamist militias, it may eventually attempt to Islamisize East Africa. This is backed up by a report compiled by the International Crisis Group that says: “Militant jihadi ideology is radicalising young Somalis at home and abroad; veteran foreign jihadis are exerting ever-greater influence; and recently its emir pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and global jihad.” You may read the report from the International Crisis Group here.
The Somali people themselves are peace-loving people who want a stable country and economy. It is the warlords who are preventing and have prevented this from happening for the past 20 years, through indoctrination of the citizenry and opposition of outside assistance offered by nations that want to see human conditions improve and the conflict brought to an end.
Overall, Somalia’s application has several question marks that will cause the EAC leaders to think twice about a decision that could affect an entire region that is currently enjoying peace, and wants to keep it that way.
Categories: News Tags: East African Community, East African Court of Justice, East African Treaty, Hassan Mwinyi, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, kenya, Somalia, Somaliland, tanzania, Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Newscast Media NAIROBI, Kenya—Over a month ago, Somalia applied to join the East African Community (EAC) in a letter that was sent to Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president and the current head chairman of the EAC. Some might wonder why Somalia would apply to become part of the EAC since it is located in what is perceived by many as East Africa. To a foreign eye, that may appear true, but to a native African, the countries that make up East Africa are: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Somalia is considered to be part of the Horn of Africa, and some go as far as classifying it as being part of North Africa.
To give the readers a little history of the EAC, it was conceived in 1967, by the aspirations of Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, Uganda’s Milton Obote and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere. This led to the formation of the East African Community that allowed inter-state commerce to happen between the three countries. Vehicles and trains from the region were marked with the abbreviation EAC to facilitate the free flow of goods across East Africa, and distinguish them from other African countries.
Within 10 years, the EAC had dissolved, but was revived in 1999-2000 by Kenya’s Daniel Arap Moi, Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and Tanzania’s Ali Hassan Mwinyi, to the current EAC. In July 2009 Rwanda and Burundi that were initially considered part of Central Africa, applied and were admitted as part of the East African Community. Today the EAC is made up of the five countries (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda) in the Great Lakes region.
Sudan applied to EAC but its membership was rejected for two reasons: The first reason was that it had no geographic borders attached to any of the East African countries. Secondly, Sudan practices Sharia law and no country in East Africa engages in that practice. South Sudan, has been encouraged to join the EAC, which will lessen its dependence on Sudan as it builds ties with East Africa. However, because political instability continues to plague the region, its application is being threatened as reported by Tanzania’s Citizen News.
Somalia comes into play by virtue of having its borders attached to Kenya, but faces several impediments, six (6) of which I will list below numerically:
Impediment #1: Somalia is considered a terror state and harbors the terrorist group Al-Shabaab as indicated in this report by the U.S. State Department.
This is in direct contravention of Article III of the EAC Treaty which clearly spells out the criteria used in expanding the membership of the Community.
Membership of the Community—Article III section 3(b):
(b) Adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.
Because it harbors a terror group, it will be hard for Somalia to bypass this requirement of the East African Treaty.
Impediment #2: Al-Shabaab recently joined forces with Al-Qaeda, which does not strengthen its standing in the EAC community. An enraged Hillary Clinton wanted no part of discussions with the group, and ruled out talks with Al-Shabaab, saying that its decision to join forces with al-Qaeda showed “it is not on the side of peace, stability or the Somali people” as reported by the BBC in this article.
Impediment #3: Somalia observes Sharia Law, and just as Sudan was denied membership because no country in East Africa observes Sharia, there is a high likelihood the same standard will be applied to Somalia. Among many things, the strict interpretation of Sharia law also forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women, beards for men, and bans music and television CNN reports here.
On the issue of Sharia, this law is decided by a Sharia court, yet to become a member of the EAC, it would mean that the East African Court of Justice would have jurisdiction over matters related to human rights and so forth. The decision of the East African Court also supersedes the decisions of other national courts in matters related to the Treaty. This is demonstrated in Article 23, Article 27, Article 33 and Article 35 of the East African Treaty as shown below:
ARTICLE 23: East African Court of Justice—Role of the Court
The Court shall be a judicial body which shall ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with this Treaty.
ARTICLE 27—Jurisdiction of the Court
1. The Court shall initially have jurisdiction over the interpretation and application of this Treaty.
2. The Court shall have such other original, appellate, human rights and other jurisdiction as will be determined by the Council at a suitable subsequent date. To this end, the Partner States shall conclude a protocol to operationalise the extended jurisdiction.
ARTICLE 33— Jurisdiction of National Courts
1. Except where jurisdiction is conferred on the Court by this Treaty, disputes to which the Community is a party shall not on that ground alone, be excluded from the jurisdiction of the national courts of the Partner States.
2. Decisions of the Court on the interpretation and application of this Treaty shall have precedence over decisions of national courts on a similar matter.
ARTICLE 35—Judgment of the Court
1. The Court shall consider and determine every reference made to it pursuant to this Treaty in accordance with rules of the Court and shall deliver in public session, a reasoned judgment which, subject to rules of the Court as to review, shall be final, binding and conclusive and not open to appeal. Click here to read or download entire East African Treaty.
Impediment #4: Piracy on the seas, is not only a regional issue that Somalia has failed to contain, it has become an international problem, once again in contravention to Article III of the EAC Treaty, particularly subsections (b) and (f).
Article III sections 3(b) and 3(f) state:
(b) Adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice;
(f)Social and economic policies being compatible with those of the Community.
The activity of Somalian pirates not only violates human rights because they have killed many hostages, but piracy also hinders commerce and economic policies, because merchant vessels containing goods and merchandise that are hijacked by pirates, are a source of income upon which various countries rely to grow their economies. CBS News reported the story of four Americans who were killed by Somalian pirates with a message from Muse Abdi who said: “Killing hostages has now become part of our rules. From now on, anyone who tries to rescue the hostages in our hands will only collect dead bodies.” Continue to Part II-Somalia’s impediments>