Thursday, May 19, 2022

Africa rejects Molokomme’s ICC bid, snubs President Khama

African countries have rejected Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme’s candidacy for the presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and snubbed President Khama’s plea to defer the decision for two weeks.

New York-based African diplomats met on Friday and endorsed Senegalese Minister of Justice Sidiki Kaba as the continent’s preferred candidate. President Khama had written to the African Diplomats asking them to defer the meeting for two weeks, his request however was rebuffed.

The coveted ICC position will fall vacant when current President, Tiina Intelmann retires on December 18.

Ideally, a nominee ought to have been out by June 30, to allow ICC members to build consensus and vote in the proposed candidate between Athaliah Molokomme of Botswana, Sidiki Kaba of Senegal and a Sierra Leonean and Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Vandi Minah.

New York-based African diplomats met Intelmann earlier this year, and demanded the seat. With 34 members, Africa forms the single largest bloc in the 122-member Assembly, followed by Latin America and Caribbean – 27, Western Europe 25, Eastern Europe 18 and Asia-Pacific 18.

On April 7, three African countries; Botswana, Senegal and Sierra Leone expressed interest.

Since then, Africa has been unable to pick one among the three. An ASP secretariat (known in ICC parlance as “bureau”) meeting held on July 18, reported a vote as the only way out.

“On behalf of the Vice President, Ambassador Kanda (Ghana), the President informed the bureau that discussions in the margins of the African Union Summit in Malabo and subsequent consultations had not yet resulted in the designation by African States Parties of a joint candidate,” reads minutes of the meeting.

The meeting was further told that the African Union Ministerial Committee on African candidatures had requested Botswana, Senegal and Sierra Leone to continue their pursuit for a candidate.

Intelmann also informed the meeting that a proposal had been made to conduct a vote among African States Parties in New York at the end of July to identify a candidate.

By the end of July, no candidate had been ‘procured’ yet. On August 15, the bureau held another meeting in New York where it was reported that the time for consultations among the three states had been further extended.

But matters had gone higher with Intelmann writing to the Presidents of the three countries for help. “In this spirit, she had written a letter to the Presidents of the three countries, inviting them to conduct consultations, especially bearing in mind the US-Africa Summit in Washington DC which took place in early August,” records of the August 15 meeting state. President Khama, however missed the crucial meeting.

Intelmann informed the meeting further, that two of the three countries ‘strongly favour’ a proposal to conduct an indicative vote among African states parties to the ICC to obtain a candidate if consultations hit a dead end.

The country is reportedly pushing for a vote between the three at the ASP plenary in December.

Diplomatic sources said the Malabo summit was at the heart of the current stand-off.

The proceedings are said to have ‘fouled’ the negotiations after it emerged there was an AU executive council ‘decision’ settling on the Senegalese before consensus.

“The Executive Council takes note of the report of the ministerial committee on African candidatures within the international system and endorses for the post of President of the Assembly of Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC during elections to be held in October 2014 in New York, the candidature of Maitre Sidiki Kaba of the Republic of Senegal,” reads a resolution of the meeting.

Strangely, the Council set aside several other candidatures for other international bodies where consensus had not been developed.

It is understood that the legality of this resolution was ‘seriously challenged’ in New York, where the process is led.
Apparently, no consultations had taken place before the decision and it was also not per ‘equity’.

Insiders, however, believe the rejection was related to the politics of African diplomatic community in New York. Their preferred candidate is Minah, who is also one of their own.

Besides being in New York, he has experience with government, UN and civil society.

His competitors are, however, based in their respective African capitals making them far removed from day to day functioning of the ASP which is run from New York.

Molokomme was also disadvantaged by the fact that Judge Sanji Monageng, also from Botswana, is the second top-most judicial officer at the ICC.

Monageng is the first Vice President of the court. Once the term of the current President Sang-Hyun Song ends in December, Monageng is likely to take over the judicial arm until her term expires in March 2015.

There were concerns that if Molokomme was selected and Monageng ascended to the top, two key arms of the court would be held by nationals of the same country. The situation, however, was more or less similar for the Senegalese. His co-national Xavier-Jean Keita is the Principal Counsel at ICC’s Office of the Public Counsel for Defence.

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