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Uhuru Kenyatta in London Amid ICC Controversy

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, facing trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity, arrived in London on May 6 to take part in a conference on Somalia. Rights activists are planning to demonstrate against his visit.

London was the first destination for President Uhuru Kenyatta outside Africa. He arrived at London's Heathrow Airport, where he was welcomed by British officials and staff from the Kenyan High Commission. He was accompanied by his wife Margaret Kenyatta, Kenya's attorney general Githu Muigai and other senior government officials. Uhuru and his entourage are in the UK for a three-day visit.

Kenyatta is facing a trial at the Hague based International Criminal Court. He is accused of crimes against humanity related to post-election violence in 2007-08. He is to go on trial in July 9.

London, like the rest of the European Union and other Western powers, has a policy of only "essential contact" with anyone charged by the International Criminal Court.

Uhuru's agenda

Sani Dauda, DW correspondent in London, said Kenyatta is expected to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron on the sidelines of Tuesday's Somalia conference.

The Prime Minister's office would not confirm whether David Cameron would hold bilateral talks with Kenyatta. "The prime minister will have discussions with a number of leaders at the conference.

We're not discussing whether there will be bilateral or not," a Downing Street spokesman told the French news agency AFP. "We therefore welcome the decision of the Kenyan government and President Kenyatta to attend this conference," the British government official added.

Kenya is a vital partner on Somalia. It is hosting more refugees from the troubled Horn of Africa nation than any other country. It has also provided nearly 5,000 troops to the AU peace-keeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Controversial visit

Uhuru Kenyatta who was recently sworn in as Kenya's fourth President, has been invited to take part in Tuesday's international conference on Somalia by the British and Somali governments. However his visit is already stirring controversy.

"There are all indications that there will be some demonstrations or protests will be staged outside Lancaster house," Sani Dauda told DW in a telephone interview.

The protests are being organized by Human Rights activists. Dauda noted that most Kenyans in London turned to social media to lend their support to President Kenyatta's visit. However, there were those who felt his presence at the London conference, would be a betrayal to the efforts of routing impunity and corruption which have plagued the African continent.

Kenya's leadership on trial

Meanwhile the ICC on Monday postponed the trial of Kenyatta's deputy William Ruto. The court said it would schedule a new date for Ruto's trial after hearings on May 7 and May 14. In the hearings, the court will discuss the prosecution's request to add five witnesses and the defense's request to postpone the trial.

Ruto was due to face the Hague-based court on May 28 over accusations he helped orchestrate tribal violence that claimed more than 1,000 people after the disputed elections in 2007.


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