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Kenya president yet to confirm attendance at UN meet

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta attends a summit in Abuja on July 16, 2013. Kenyatta, who is facing trial for alleged crimes against humanity, is scheduled to attend the United Nations General Assembly next week but has yet to confirm he will do so.AFP/File

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing trial for alleged crimes against humanity, is scheduled to attend the United Nations General Assembly next week but has yet to confirm he will do so.

"He is scheduled to attend. A decision will be taken at the weekend," Kenyatta's spokesman Manoah Esipisu told AFP, without giving further details.

The Kenyan leader is due to appear in November at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for his alleged role in the violence that followed the disputed 2007 elections, in which more than 1,100 people were killed and several hundred thousand displaced.

His deputy, Kenyan Vice President William Ruto, is currently on trial in The Hague on similar charges.

Kenyatta has so far cooperated with the court, but the ICC case has caused some diplomatic awkwardness -- most notably when US President Barack Obama skipped Kenya during his African tour this year.

The United States has condemned plans by Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to attend the UN meeting because he is wanted by the ICC for genocide in Darfur.

Although the UN headquarters in New York is extra-territorial, Sudanese citizens would need a visa to enter the United States to get there.

Kenyatta, however, is in a different situation in that he has promised he will turn up for the start of his trial on November 12.

"He has still got the presumption of innocence, unlike Sudan's Omar al-Bashir who is a fugitive from international justice," commented Kenyan civil society figure and anti-graft campaigner Mwalimu Mati.

Still, he said the trip could be "embarrassing" for the Kenyan president to visit "a foreign country and you can't meet the head of state."

"There is no real political effect but it is a continuous reminder of your status, that you're not a head of state people will mingle with," Mati said.