Friday, July 17, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
July 14, 2009

This week has not been pleasant for dictators and warlords in Africa. Kenya and Sudan have not been particularly comfortable. What with Annan unleashing the dreaded envelope to merciless Moreno Ocampo just at the time President Obama had decided to read the riot act to African strong men with special emphasis on Kenya.

Prosecutor Ocampo’s whirlwind journey in Eastern Africa; from Addis Ababa to Kinshasa and back to Kampala has been anything but good news. It has been an ill wind blowing across our troubled region.

His speeches in the three capitals were at best warnings to our murderous rulers that soon there will be no place to hide. He left no doubt in everybody’s mind that prosecute he will those that have been accused of planning and executing crimes against humanity. He is determined to get Omar El Bashir no matter how long it will take.

He handed the same ominous warning to Kenyan warlords who thought they would wear him out with endless promises. Even the masquerades and bravados of the likes of Mutula Kilonzo have not impressed him.

Just the other week, when the AU Heads of state met in Sirte, Libya, they passed a very selfish resolution whose motive was to serve the interests of the continent’s dictators. In that resolution, they resolved that they would not cooperate with the ICC in The Hague over the arrest of Omar El Bashir of Sudan. Even though the import of the resolution was the Sudanese President, the main thrust was to shield all dictators from possible prosecution in The Hague.

In his Kampala speech, Moreno Ocampo called their bluff. He reminded them that the AU resolution was not binding to the ICC because the African Union is not a signatory to the Rome Statutes. What he was reminding the African leaders of was that the Sirte declaration was of no consequence and would not be a refuge for Bashir or any African dictator needed in The Hague in the future.

As Ocampo was making these spine chilling remarks, news from Kampala and Gaborone in Botswana were no better. In spite of the Sirte declaration, THE TWO African states were ready to arrest Bashir and hand him over to The Hague should they come across him in their territories. If these sudden changes of heart were any indication; they went to prove that the Sirte solidarity was beginning to have cracks. But even more telling was the fact that just next door to Kenya, Uganda was ready to arrest wanted criminals and hand them over.

This means that if the warlords in Kenya were to be indicted, they would face the greater danger of not even traveling to next door Uganda! Just imagine if top Kenyan leaders were indicted, they would not even travel to Kampala for the EAC meetings for fear of arrests!

Watching Barack Obama’s speeches in Italy, Accra and now Washington, one gets the feeling that finally, there is an American president who has decided to tell it like it is. He told Africa to expect bilateral trade not aid. He told Africa to clean up its politics and governance first before expecting America to support the continent’s development agenda. He was blunt enough to remind Zimbabwe , Kenya and all those states suffering abject poverty that it was no longer fashionable to blame colonialism and Western capitalism for their woes. Their own corruption, mismanagement and bad governance practices were the cause of the continent’s backwardness. It was time they changed their ways or they would be forced to vacate leadership.

Was it shortsightedness or cleverness on the part of Mutula Kilonzo of Kenya to draft a bill for a tribunal on the model of a failed Ugandan one or were the political elite just trying to get smart with the ICC?

One wondered at the intelligence of our politicians to be busy running up and down with a new draft in the full knowledge that Kenyans would shoot it down even as Ocampo was reviewing the progress of the Ugandan model.

Now that Ocampo has promised to open the Kenyan envelop and release the names of the top suspects to the public, it will only be fair to expect all these people to step down from their public offices pending investigation. Kenya cannot afford to continue being governed by criminals. It has had thieves and murderers for leaders for too long. This madness must come to an end.

Finally, once we are through with the 2007 post election warlords, we must revisit similar clashes in 1992 and 1992 and bring to book those that planned them. No one should be spared whether they are current or retired heads of state.

And in order for justice to be seen to be done, Kenya’s ECK Chairman, the Attorney General and the Chief Justice who presided over the swearing in ceremony on December 30, 2007 knowing full well that multiple election offences had been committed must be held responsible for fuelling the violence.