Thursday, January 26, 2012



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
January 24, 2012

Finally the ICC Pretrial Chamber delivered its verdict. It found four of the six Kenyans responsible for the atrocities that devastated Kenya four years ago. Incidentally two of them came from the PNU as one came from the ODM with a fourth accused being a confessed party-less radio broadcaster.

Since this ruling was given on Monday evening, several strange reactions have been recorded from all quarters of the Kenyan political class as well as the rank and file of its population. At the center of this controversy is William Ruto, a former minster for Higher Education and an ego-centric politician who believes that he will be Kenya’s next president in a few months time come rain or shine. Along with him is Uhuru Kenyatta, Jomo’s son who too believes that the presidency should continue in the house of Mumbi soon after Mwai Kibaki retires.

The irony of it all is that these two ambitious Kenyans and their supporters are so hell bent on having their way, the provisions of the present constitution and its high integrity standards notwithstanding.  All they want to see is that the presidency of Kenya goes to these men with a case to answer at The Hague. That at least is how TV commentator Mutahi Ngunyi sees it.

The reason they are facing trial at The Hague is because William Ruto masterminded the killing of Kikuyus in the Rift Valley, more specifically the burning of innocent Kenyans in that Kiambaa church on that fateful day at the height of the post election violence. Furthermore, he is accused of masterminding the displacement of thousands of non Kalenjins in the Rift Valley most of them from Kikuyu community.

Uhuru Kenyatta on the other hand is accused of masterminding and financing militias that carried out reprisal killings against Luos, Luhyas and Kalenjins in Naivasha and Nakuru. Like in Eldoret, there were massacres, burning of families in their homes and massive dislocation of innocent Kenyans that had nothing to do with election results.

Yet, now, some of the most vocal commentators who see nothing wrong in crimes these men are suspected of have quickly rushed to TV networks with some of the most bizarre utterances urging Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to vie for the highest office on the land as running mates. The question to ask is this: will the ordinary Kikuyu and Kalenjin who suffered the atrocities of the 2008 post election violence, who lost relatives or whose relatives were displaced and still languishing in IDP camps vote for these two gentlemen who have yet to prove their innocence at The Hague?

Assuming that Mutahi Ngunyi’s logic of rallying the Kalenjins and Kikuyus behind Uhuru and Ruto works for them how will the two politicians navigate the legal and constitutional encumbrances of the new election rules? Will they ignore criminal charges and move on with their politics as usual? Will the rest of Kenyans still vote them in office knowing that they are voting in office individuals facing charges of crimes against humanity in an international court? How will they conduct their campaigns as they attend court hearings thousands of miles away? Of course they can buy special jets to shuttle them between Nairobi and Amsterdam should the need arise! How about running the country should they win the elections? Or will we have another Omar El Bashir situation in Kenya?

The Hague verdict has thrown another spanner in the coalition government. Two of the accused are serving high ranking officials in the coalition government- specifically serving the PNU side of the coalition. Francis Muthaura is Kibaki’s Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service. The other is Uhuru Kenyatta who serves as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance.

When in early last year, the six suspects were named by the ICC Prosecutor as the culprits responsible for the 2008 mayhem, Kenyans expected those serving in public offices to vacate office on account of failing integrity test after having been adversely mentioned in The Hague Court. However, the three officials refused to resign and were literally shielded by the President. At that time President Kibaki claimed that they were merely suspects and that their resignations were not necessary until the ICC confirmed their charges.

Now that charges have been confirmed for Francis Muthaura and Uhuru Kenyatta, the President has changed tune or should I say moved the goal posts?
Now he says through his Attorney General that the two will not vacate office unless they are convicted!

As much as this statement has baffled many Kenyans, a few of them are asking one fundamental question: are there two sets of laws governing two sets of Kenyans?

This question could not have come at a worse time for the President and the Attorney General bearing in mind that just a  week earlier, the Deputy Chief Justice was accused of pinching a security guard’s nose and was hastily condemned by the Judicial Service Commission and speedily recommended to the same President for suspension and trial by a tribunal. The President has since suspended Baraza and set up a tribunal to probe her. Now what Kenyans are demanding to know from Githu Muigai and the President is this: between pinching a guard’s nose and masterminding the murder of 1500 Kenyans and displacing 600,000 more, which one of these crimes is more heinous?

Mutula Kilonzo is the Minister for Justice in Kenya, a Senior State Counsel and Secretary General of the ODM Kenya, a party that belongs to the Vice President. For crying loud, Mutula is pleading with Muthaura and Uhuru to do the only honorable thing, stand aside from their public offices and withdraw from the race for presidency but nobody from the government he serves is  listening. Instead we see the AG usurping the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions and now wants to set up a special court to try 5000 suspects of the 2008 post election violence. He also wants to bring back the four ICC suspects to be tried in Nairobi four years later! Where were these people when Martha Karua, Gitobu Imanyara, Paul Muite, Raila Odinga, and Kofi Annan were pleading for a local tribunal?

Finally, why is President Kibaki not asking Francis Muthaura to step aside when in the past he let Alfred Gitonga, Kiraitu Murungi, David Mwiraria, Amos Kimunya, Moses Wetangula, Henry Kosgey, William Ruto and a host of Permanent Secretaries step aside when the law required? Is there something the President knows in this case that we do not know?