France Will Not Work With Uhuru and Ruto If They Are Elected To Office
Switzerland warns of “consequences” if ICC suspects are elected to Office
France has said it supports the International Criminal Court (ICC) process in Kenya and will only have ‘essential contact’ with Uhuru Kenyatta if he is elected president. France ambassador to Kenya Etienne de Poncins, however, maintained that Kenyans have a right to elect leaders of their own choice in the March 4 General Election.
“Our position is that we only have essential contact with somebody who is indicted by the ICC; it is a well-known position, same as that of the British,” the envoy said in Kisumu during the launch of the 2013 edition of the annual French Film Festival at the newly-opened Alliance Francais offices in Milimani estate.
Mr Poncins said Paris will act according to the dictates of the Rome Statute because it is a signatory. “We are supportive of the ICC and are members of the Rome Statute. Our policy is to limit contact only to the essentials. There is no surprise in that; it is a long-standing position,” Mr Poncins said.
At the same time, Switzerland joined the growing chorus warning of consequences if Mr Kenyatta is elected president. The Swiss ambassador to Kenya Jacques Pittloud maintained that while Kenyans have the freedom of choice in electing their leaders, the ICC process could not be wished away.
“The question is not who will be elected but whether Kenya will keep abiding by its obligations under the Rome Statute, a full co-operation with the ICC. If not, Switzerland will have no choice but to act according to its obligations under international law,” Mr Pittlous told the Nation on phone.
Already, the US and Britain have made their positions known on the issue, which has captured Kenyans imagination following a televised video message by US President Barack Obama on the Kenyan elections. The latest move comes hours after the government said it will seek clarification from the US on its position post-March 4.
Mr Kenyatta, who is seeking the presidency on a Jubilee Alliance ticket and his running mate William Ruto are facing charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC. The charges stem from the 2007/2008 post election violence in which 1,133 people were killed and 650,000 displaced from their homes.
Mr Kenyatta, Mr Ruto, former head of civil service Francis Muthaura and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang are accused of bearing the greatest responsibility for the violence that followed a disputed presidential election. The ICC trials are set to begin in April 10.