Billionaire controversial Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has become the first sitting president to appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.
The court had ordered Kenyatta to attend the status hearing on Wednesday, denying his request that he participate by video.
“The case is at a critical juncture, which is why I deemed appropriate to be here in person,” ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said.
Almost 100 Kenyan members of parliament were present in the various public viewing galleries for the hearing on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Kenyatta invoked a never-before-used article of the constitution, handing over power temporarily to Deputy President William Ruto.
The temporary measure is Kenyatta’s way of fulfilling the court order to appear, but also insisting that he be a private citizen during the hearing.
Kenyatta faces crimes against humanity charges at The Hague-based court for allegations that he helped instigate violence that followed Kenya’s December 2007 presidential election, when more than 1,000 people were killed.
Judge Kuniko Ozaki told Kenyatta that he was present “solely in your capacity as an accused individual”.
“You may speak only in your capacity as an accused and may not make statements either of a political nature or in your official capacity,” as president, Ozaki said.
Kenyatta’s lawyer Stephen Kay said however that his client would not address the court.
“I will be answering questions on his [Kenyatta’s] behalf and he does not choose to make a statement today,” Kay said.
“Prosecution lawyers called on Wednesday for an exceptional ‘indefinite adjournment’ in the case against Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
“With Mr Kenyatta deciding that he will not speak personally during the Status Hearing, the prosecution made an unusual argument for keeping the case open for an indefinite period while further attempts are made to persuade the Kenyan government to co-operate with the court,” he added.
Kenyatta and Ruto, who were on opposing sides of the 2007-08 conflict, formed a political alliance that won the presidency last year and a majority in parliament after they were indicted for the crimes against humanity.
On Tuesday, international prosecutors accused the Kenyan government of failing to hand over phone and bank records they said would help them show Kenyatta paid collaborators to take part in post-election violence in 2007.
Prosecution lawyer Ben Gumpert told judges the Kenyan government had not handed over phone records and three years of bank records the prosecution needed to corroborate witness testimony that Kenyatta had approached them to “finance or ultimately coordinate that violence”.
McGregor-Woods said the prosecution will be asking Kenyatta about whether or not he is willing to co-operate with the court as they said he has not been doing so thus far.
“All along the prosecution has complained that the Kenyan government has not responded quickly enough and efficiently enough to its requests for those records, and I think that will be the line of questioning by the prosecution today,” he said.
Kenyatta’s lawyers have always dismissed the requests for his bank and telephone records as a “fishing expedition” designed to cover up for prosecutors’ lack of evidence.
“Whatever evidence we produced, further inquiries were suddenly made,” Kay said.
The repeatedly-delayed case has seen at least seven prosecution witnesses drop out, allegedly through bribes and intimidation.
Judges could decide to send the case to trial or to abandon it after the prosecution said it did not have enough evidence, although a decision is not expected on Wednesday.
About a dozen supporters had greeted Kenyatta when he arrived at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport on Tuesday, although he and his entourage left the airport via a VIP exit.
US Election: Trump Claims Victory Hours After Saying Biden Won
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has declared himself the winner of the US Election 2020.
President Trump declared himself the winner of the US election in a tweet on Monday morning, November 16 by simply tweeting: “I won the election.”
I WON THE ELECTION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2020
This came hours after he tweeted that his opponent Joe Biden “won because the election was rigged.”
He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more! https://t.co/Exb3C1mAPg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
The latest vote tallies project Democratic candidate, Biden a clear winner in the state-by-state Electoral College that decides the presidency, with 306 votes against Trump’s 232.
However, President Trump has remained defiant, continuously claiming he won the election free and fair.
Former Ghana President, Jerry Rawlings Is Dead
Jerry Rawlings, a former Ghanaian president has reportedly died from suspected COVID-19 complications.
The former Ghanaian leader died at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, capital of Ghana on Thursday morning.
Rawlings led the country first as a military ruler and then as a democratically elected president between 1981 and 2001.
Rawlings initially rose to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant in the Ghana Air Force, following a coup détat in 1979.
After initially handing power over to a civilian government, he took control again in December 1981 as Head of State.
He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years.
Rawlings left office in 2000 after exhausting Ghana’s constitutional term-limit of eight years for Presidents.
US Election Is Far From Over — Trump
Shortly after Biden was projected winner, Trump in a defiant statement expressed that the election was “far from over” and criticised Biden for “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.”
“Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.
“Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.
“The American people are entitled to an honest election, that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots,” Trump said.
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