By Paul Ndiho
January 26, 2012
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled that four prominent Kenyans are to stand trial for the inciting the violence that followed general elections there. The International Criminal Court says that Kenyan presidential contenders Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto should face trial, along with Francis Muthaura, the head of the civil service, and radio journalist Joshua Sang. The men are suspected of orchestrating Kenya’s post-election violence of 2007 and 2008.
Two others, the former Police Commissioner and an opposition politician were found not guilty of charges.
Mwangi Kimenyi of the Brookings Institution says the ICC’s decision is a milestone for Kenya.
“All of them are going to appeal which means it will be a long process before we go to the full trial. So we have key people particularly politicians whose charges were confirmed and that’s significant for the country’s politics and as we move forward it will be important.”
The ICC’s top prosecutor says that he is considering whether the four Kenyans should be tried together or in separate cases, an idea that would have to be approved by the judges.
“We are discussing in my office if we put together the two cases or not, so is it better to have one case together with four suspects, or have two different parallel cases.”
More than 11-hundred people were killed, thousands injured, and many more forcibly displaced in the violence that followed Kenya’s December 2007 elections. There were also hundreds of rapes, and many properties were destroyed.
The two cases involving the politicians are split between the ethnic Kalenjin and Kikuyu camps, as Ruto is a Kalenjin and Kenyatta is a Kikuyu:
“To me what I’d have liked to see is that we move fast with whether it’s a trial or the appeals process get the issues done. Then if there are implicated then they don’t run for office or serve in public office. But at this point, I think it’s tricky because you have these coalitions and people think that there communities are being targeted and that’s where like I have said before, the president or the Prime Minister must go above these tribal or ethnic royalties and look at what is important for the country to focus on.”
The decision by the court – whose proceedings have been closely followed in Kenya – is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the biggest economy in east Africa. Mr. Kimenyi says that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga must go above ethnic royalties and look at what’s important for the country.
“We are not talking about issues yet; we’re talking about which tribe, which people to join. I’d have liked somebody to come and talk about the youth unemployment, talk about issues of agriculture, talk about our infrastructure issues but we haven’t seen those issues.”
Analysts say both Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the son of the country’s founding president, and William Ruto, a former higher education minister, want to run for president next year. The ICC’s decision that they must face trial will no doubt affect those plans.