December 15, 2010
There has never been a dramatic week such as this one in the history of Kenya. With the clouds of the Hague prosecutions dangling menacingly over the heads of political warlords responsible for the deaths of 1500 Kenyans three years ago; and the possible hauling into court of four cabinet ministers on charges of economic crimes and abuse of office, Kenyans were allowed to gasp for breath when one added Wikileaks tell tales from the American Embassy that failed to flatter the top most authority on the land.
For the first time since assuming power in 2002, President Kibaki lost his cool and tore into the American envoy based in Kenya like never before. In no uncertain terms, President Kibaki warned the American Administration that the cash the local envoy was dishing out to Kenya’s poor and desperate youths would not shake the government. He assured the Americans that they would not succeed in their evil schemes against the people of Kenya. He reminded the Americans that Kenya had been independent for the past 47 years and no amount of intimidation would get Kenya back under colonialism. Finally in a parting shot, he declared that Kenya would do everything including going to war if necessary to defend its independence. What was not clear was whether President Kibaki was challenging the American government on the war front the way Saddam Hussein of Iraq and other countries have done in the past.
And President Kibaki was not alone in expressing his anger and desperation. Prime Minister Raila Odinga who in the past was thought to get along with the present Obama administration was equally miffed by not only Wikileaks expose but Michael Ranneberger’s penchant for traversing the country under the guise of empowering the youth of Kenya to take up political leadership of the country. In Ranneberger’s open campaign against the present leadership that he considers corrupt to the bone and incapable of implementing reforms, he has not hidden the fact that only his type of “young” Kenyans can change the country for the better.
So much for the ire against Wikileaks from Kenya’s political establishment.
On Wednesday this week, Moreno Ocampo kept his date with Kenyans. At exactly 2pm East African Time, the ICC Prosecutor unleashed the six names he considers most responsible for the Post Election Violence in Kenya three years ago.
Much as most Kenyans expected politicians William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta and former Police Commissioner, General Ali to be on the list, Kenyans were surprised when the six names included Ambassador Francis Muthaura, Kenya’s Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet since 2003. Another surprise name was that of Henry Kosgey, an ODM minister and staunch supporter of Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Rift Valley.
Also in the surprise list was little known Joshua arap Sang, a Kalenjin vernacular broadcaster with KASS FM, the station that was accused of preaching ethnic hatred in the run up to and during the violence that led to 1500 deaths and 600,000 human displacements in Rift Valley.
As if these upheavals were not enough for the political establishment, another MP, Gitobu Imanyara of Imenti South was ready to table the Ouko Murder Report in Parliament that would further implicate at least two sitting cabinet ministers. Dr. Robert Ouko was Foreign Minister in Moi’s government when he was murdered in February 1990.
If the Director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission makes good his threat to charge four cabinet ministers with economic crimes this week; then Kenyans are likely to see in the next few days several resignations or individuals “stepping aside”. All in all, the three processes may see at least 8 cabinet ministers going home and possibly facing prosecution one way or another if the Attorney General so chooses to do so.
Reactions from Ocampo list inside and outside Parliament were as diverse as Kenya can be. While others expressed surprise at some of the names, a number said that Ocampo should proceed with prosecutions. Expectedly, some sympathizers of named individuals cried foul suggesting that more names should have been included considering that the warring parties fought on behalf of the two principals.
In the middle of all this national consternation, Uhuru Kenyatta once more proved his statesmanship by appealing for calm and assured Kenyans that he now had a chance to clear his name at the ICC.
What was not lost on observers was the fact that naming William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta as suspects for the Hague trials now put a question mark on their prospects for presidential elections in 2012 considering that should the Trial Chamber decide that they have a case to answer, hearings may not start until 2012, the year of the next elections.
However, the question that still begs answers is whether both can vie for the presidency in 2017 should The Hague acquit them of all the charges.
Whatever the case, the events this week have altered the political landscape in Kenya in more ways than one. For this first time in our history, our top cabinet ministers and the Secretary to the Cabinet have been accused of Crimes against Humanity in The Hague. Can it get any worse?