China on Monday threw its weight behind an African bid to suspend an International Criminal Court crimes-against-humanity case against Kenya’s president.
It said the “dignity” of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President William Ruto had to be respected by the UN Security Council and the ICC.
African nations have circulated a draft Security Council resolution which would call for ICC charges against Kenyatta and Ruto to be deferred for one year.
The campaign has already been backed by Russia, which like China is not an ICC member.
The Security Council should “actively and positively” support the demand made by the African Union and Kenya, China’s UN ambassador Liu Jieyi told a press conference.
Kenyatta and Ruto face charges of orchestrating political violence after a disputed 2007 election that left at least 1,100 dead. They deny the charges. Both were elected to office this year.
China is not an ICC member and has major interests in Africa and Liu said “we are a good friend and good partner of the African countries”.
African nations have cited Kenya’s role in battling Islamist militants Shebab in Somalia and the need for maintaining stability in Kenya as reasons for suspending the charges. Shebab said it carried out a shopping mall attack in Nairobi in September which left 67 dead.The Security Council should allow Kenyan leaders to “concentrate on discharging their constitutional duties,” Liu said.
“The Kenyan leaders were democratically elected by the Kenyan people and their dignity should be fully protected and respected,” he said.