NAIROBI – Kenya’s lawmakers Thursday backed a motion to pull out of the International Criminal Court, an angry snub to The Hague-based tribunal ahead of next week’s trial of Kenyan Vice President William Ruto.
The symbolic vote offers a defiant message to the ICC but does not affect upcoming trials of the East African nation’s leadership, and parliament must now vote on a bill within 30 days to formalize steps for an actual withdrawal.
Kenya is the first country to hold such a vote to leave the world court.
On Tuesday, the ICC trial opens of Ruto on three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly orchestrating 2007-2008 postelection unrest that killed at least 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000.
Ruto’s trial comes about two months ahead of that of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces five charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and deportation.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto have said they will cooperate fully with the court and deny the charges against them.
Also due to appear in The Hague is radio boss Joshua Arap Sang, accused of inciting violence.
Many Kenyan politicians have branded the ICC a “neo-colonialist” institution that only targets Africans, prompting the debate on a possible departure from the Rome Statute of the ICC.