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African states unhappy with the International Criminal Court (ICC) should work to reform it from within rather than pulling out, Botswanan foreign minister Pelomoni Venson-Moitoi, a candidate to become the next African Union (AU) chief, said.
With the AU increasingly divided over the ICC, South Africa announced last week that it planned to quit, but Venson-Moitoi said she believed an African war crimes court could be beefed up to work alongside its Hague-based counterpart.
Although South Africa argued that the ICC's Rome Statutes were at odds with its laws granting leaders diplomatic immunity, other African countries see the tribunal purely as an instrument of colonial justice that unfairly targets the continent.
"I don't see why we should be pulling out. The good thing is that a few more members now, within the AU, agree that pulling out is not the solution. We should be working towards fixing," she said, without elaborating.
After she spoke, Gambia said late on Tuesday it too was withdrawing from the ICC, calling it "an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans".
Venson-Moitoi's main rival for the AU chair is Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed. Kenya has also been leaning towards ICC withdrawal since charges were brought against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, over links to post-election bloodshed in 2008 in which at least 1,200 people were killed.
The cases against both collapsed for lack of evidence.
The AU is likely to choose its successor to South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at its annual summit in January.