UN rejects Africa bid to halt Kenya leaders' ICC trials

Uhuru Kenyatta (left in 2002) and William Ruto (right in 2012) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Both men deny involvement in post-election violence in 2007

The UN Security Council has rejected an attempt to suspend the trials of Kenya's president and vice-president at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

A resolution had been proposed by African states to suspend the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto for a year.

Eight of the 15 council members abstained and the motion did not pass.

Both men face charges over violence following the disputed 2007 election, which left some 1,200 people dead.

The resolution was proposed by Rwanda and seven members of the Security Council - including Russia and China - voted in favour.

However, nine votes are needed for a resolution to be successful at the council.

The resolution had been widely expected to fail, the BBC's Nick Bryant reports from the UN in New York.

Western countries on the council had opposed a delay, characterising their support for the ICC trials going ahead as part of a fight against impunity, our correspondent adds.

There was an angry reaction from African diplomats to the vote, who said it would change the way the continent interacts with the international community, he says.

While Mr Ruto went on trial in September, the ICC delayed President Kenyatta's trial until February following September's attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, which left 67 people dead.

Mr Ruto's trial was adjourned for a week in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

However, last month the court said he must attend most of his trial, although he could be excused on a "case by case" basis.

Mr Kenyatta is to become the first serving head of state to go on trial at an international court.

Last month, countries attending an African Union summit in Ethiopia demanded a further deferral for Mr Kenyatta's trial.

It also agreed a resolution stating no sitting African head of state should appear before an international court.

With Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir facing an ICC case as well as Mr Kenyatta, African leaders have long complained that the court unfairly targets them.

Also on Friday, an opinion poll by the Ipsos Synovate company of 2,060 Kenyans indicated that 67% of those asked wanted Mr Kenyatta to travel to the ICC and clear his name.

25% of respondents said Mr Kenyatta should not attend.

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