African Union Chairman accuses the ICC of hunting Africans

Hailemariam Desalegn and Uhuru Kenyatta

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya

Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia's Prime Minister and Chairman of the African Union, accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of targeting Africans on the basis of race and called for an end to proceedings against Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's president.

He spoke at the end of a two-day summit of the 54-member bloc, marking the 50th anniversary of the AU,  on Monday in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. Mr Hailemariam said the cases of Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto should be referred to the Kenyan courts.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) quoted Hailemariam as saying that African leaders had expressed regret that out of those indicted by the ICC, “99 per cent are Africans”.

“This shows something is flawed within the system of the ICC,” he said.

Hailemariam added that the ICC had been formed to end the culture of impunity, but “now the process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting.”

Many African leaders, as well as the AU as a body, have said that the ICC unfairly targeted Africans, while ignoring war crimes suspects in other parts of the world. 

Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto,  were on opposite sides in the 2007 election, have been charged with crimes against humanity trials for their alleged roles in orchestrating deadly inter ethnic violence after the elections that left more than 1,000 people dead and 600,000 people fleeing their homes.

Hailemariam Desalegn added that the ICC was "chasing" Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, despite the fact that the rival Kalenjin and Kikuyu ethnic groups, who had fought after the 2007 election, had come together to vote for Kenyatta and Ruto as a team in the March poll. 

The ICC said that it was not targeting Africa as a continent and that four out of eight situations under investigation in Africa were referred to the court by African countries themselves.