by Segun Odeleye
In an unprecedented move, the president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, has announced that he will step down temporarily as president of that country in order to appear before the International Criminal Court at The Hague this week.
No head of state has ever appeared before the court, and Kenyatta is resigning so he will not be the first president to do so.
The Kenyan president will be attending the sitting in a personal capacity to face charges of orchestrating ethnic killings after the country’s contested 2007 election.
He said he would invoke an article of the constitution, never used before, to appoint his deputy, William Ruto, as acting president in his absence to avoid putting the “sovereignty of more than 40 million Kenyans on trial”.
He said: “It is for this reason that I chose not to put the sovereignty of more than 40 million Kenyans on trial since their democratic will should never be subject to another jurisdiction.”
More than 1,000 people were killed in post-election violence back in 2007
“Therefore let it not be said that I am attending the status conference as the president of Kenya. Nothing in my position or my deeds as president warrants my being in court.”
Kenyatta took the decision to attend the hearing because refusing to do so, as suggested by some members of his political party could have led to an international warrant for his arrest, international condemnation or economic sanctions against Kenya.
Mr Kenyatta,his deputy Mr Ruto and a Kenyan radio personality all face crimes against humanity charges at the ICC.
The ICC’s prosecutor has accused all three of inciting widespread violence in 2007, which killed more than 1,000 people and saw 600,000 flee their homes.
Mr Kenyatta has appeared before the court before but was not president at the time.