South Africa backs AU on exempting African presidents from ICC

Cape Town, Oct 14 (IANS) South Africa Monday supported the African Union's (AU) decision that no sitting African head of state should appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Xinhua reported.

After returning from the AU's Extraordinary Summit in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa over the weekend, South African President Jacob Zuma said: "Sitting heads of state should not be prosecuted. It does not mean they will never be prosecuted. They should be prosecuted at the end of their term."

At the summit, African leaders agreed to request the ICC to grant African leaders immunity from prosecution while they are in office.

In a resolution, AU leaders asked the UN Security Council (UNSC) to urge the ICC to defer the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

"If a serving head of state has a case to answer that should be deferred so that they finish their term. That is the process that is happening in other countries, why can't it happen universally," Zuma said.

Some African countries have reportedly threatened to pull out from the ICC, accusing the tribunal of unfairly targeting Africans, including Kenyatta and Ruto, who are being tried for allegedly instigating violence during the country's 2007 general election, in which over 1,000 people died.

African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have ratified the Rome Statute, the court's founding treaty, which took effect July 1, 2002.

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