Posts Tagged ‘ICC’

It’s 8 O’clock on Monday morning when I start putting this piece together. A little happier than I have been about Mondays in the recent past – happy because today there will be no street protests in my city, Kisumu.

Mondays have been marked with street protests called by Kenya’s opposition coalition CORD over electoral reforms ahead of the 2017 presidential elections. Though the protests were meant to be peaceful, they have resulted in the death of five people, several injuries caused by bullet wounds, loss of billions of shillings due to closed businesses during the protests and destruction of property.

It does not end there.

The street protests being championed by the opposition coalition have renewed the deep rooted ethnic animosity between some of Kenya’s largest tribes. In the run up to the stolen 2007 presidential election, political animosity pitted the Kikuyu (who mainly supported President Kibaki’s PNU at that time) against the Luo and Kalenjin (who supported ODM leader Raila Odinga). Today the Kikuyu and Kalenjin are together in the ruling Jubilee Coalition while the Luo and several other tribes make up the CORD coalition under the leadership of Mr. Odinga.

The rivalry between the Luo and Kikuyu is something that has been exploited by politicians for their own political gain and it dates back to the immediate post-election period when Kenya’s founding President Jommo Kenyatta (father to Kenya’s current President) allegedly betrayed a pre-independence MoU with Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (father to CORD’s Mr. Odinga). The rivalry would become amplified when Kenyatta fired Jaramogi as his Vice President in 1966.

This political rivalry was revived in 2005 after a short stint in which the two communities were in power together and successfully defeated former President Daniel arap Moi’s KANU candidate (Uhuru Kenyatta). The relationship between the Luo and Kikuyu would take a nose dive over another alleged betrayal of an pre-election MoU between former President Kibaki and Mr. Odinga.

The political campaigns in the run-up to the 2007 elections would ignite the ethnic mistrust between three communities; the Luo and Kalenjin on one side and the Kikuyu on the other side. The Luo and Kalenjin would accuse the Kikuyu of being responsible for all their economic problems.

When the election results were disputed, the ODM Party would immediately call for mass protests that quickly degenerated into full-blown ethnic conflicts that led to the death of more than 1,300 people and the displacement of about another half a million people.

Before it got that bad, there were the reckless political statements that incited communities against each other. There was the planning. The mass action called by the opposition (whose victory was stolen) provided a conducive environment to execute.

After a supposed resolution of the conflict following international interventions under the leadership of Dr. Koffi Anan, cases against those thought to be most culpable began at the ICC. One by one the cases were dismissed until no one is currently facing charges.

This has been interpreted back in Kenya as :”people can get away with these crimes.”

Fast forward to today, the war drums similar to those that were beating in 2007 have started beating again. Last night I watched two videos that were sent to me via social media. In one of the videos a Kikuyu politician  is heard proposing the shooting dead of opposition leader Raila Odinga and adding that, “the Luo will throw stones for a week and then move on.”

That statement has sparked angry responses, most coming from the Luo community who are also demanding action against the said politician. One of the reactions I read goes:

” I put it to you MK and those who share your caustic tongue that if Raila is ASSASSINATED, Luos will not DEMONSTRATE. They will FIGHT! An all out war of HONOUR!”

Another politician at the same function called for the mass circumcision of Luos (Luos are one of the few African communities that do not circumcise their men). What should worry anybody about that statement is the fact that forced circumcision was one of the ways in which Luos who were living in predominantly Kikuyu regions were tortured during the 2007/2008 post election violence.

My examples might have revolved around statements from Kikuyu politicians because that is what triggered this post but for the sake of being fair it is worth noting that even the tribes on the opposing camps have made extremely dangerous statements as well.

One comment on Twitter aptly describes my feeling about this whole conversation though:

You see, politicians can only get away with this because their supporters allow them to. They cheer them on because deep down that is what our society is.

These statements are coming as the CORD coalition intensifies it’s push for electoral reforms through mass protests and just months to the 2017 general elections. Kenya is at cross-roads and even though the situation is calm today, the volatility can be felt in the air.

After 2007/8 we said “never again” but it looks like we forgot too fast. Maybe because we never really saw someone pay dearly for their actions – on that we blame the ICC.

This post was written for – a network of African Politics bloggers.

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As the rest of the country was still dazzled by the Pope’s visit and his message of hope and show of humility, there was an important event happening a continent away but of great significance to the country as we strive to achieve some of those ideals that Pope Francis spoke about during his three-day visit to Kenya.

The Assembly of State Parties (ASP) was making a decision regarding Kenya’s submission to amend  Rule 68 of procedures and evidence.

Kenya’s amendment sought to have the the earlier amendment to the rule done in November 2013 applied  in a non-retroactive manner.

In a layman’s language, we were asking the ASP to refuse the use of recanted statements in the ongoing cases at the ICC involving Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang’ and to some extent against President Uhuru Kenyatta in case the case against him will be opened in the future.

Rule 68

Immediately the ASP plenary agreed to adopt the changes – albeit with a caviet that it will be up to the ICC Appeals Chamber to decide on whether the Prosecutor; Fatou Bensouda was justified to use recanted statements by witnesses in her case against the two Kenyans, Kenyan media were already celebrating a win for Ruto and Sang’.

In an article that appeared largely as a PR statement for the Foreign Affairs CS Amina Abdallah, Capital FM claimed victory for Kenya.

“Kenya wins as ASP adopts text on ICC recanted evidence” 


Was this really a win for Kenya?

Constitutional Lawyer Gitobu Imanyara thinks otherwise:

The seasoned lawyer says that it will still be up to the courts to determine whether to use or not to use the recanted evidence.

Prof Makau Mutua, a former Dean at the SUNY Buffalo Law School agrees with Imanyara on this.

Dennis Itumbi, a Director of Communications at Statehouse though not a legal expert thinks this was a straight win for the government.

While another lawyer Ahmed Nasir Abdulahi thinks Kenya put in a redundant request.

The “Legalese” aside, was this really a win for Kenya?

The government has spent millions of shillings pushing for these amendments to the evidence rules of the ICC. 32 members of parliament, foreign affairs ministry staff, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution among other dignitaries and their aides were being fed and housed at The Hague and even paid allowances using tax payers money.

The big question therefore is, was this in Kenya’s interest or those of the accused?

The trial against the two has started, why waste state resources in stalling it while the accused can argue for themselves in court?

While we are employing the principal of “innocence till proven guilty,” let us not forget that these two people are being accused of murdering Kenyans, forceful evictions, rape and other criminal activities. Who speaks for the victims of these atrocities.

Why haven’t we seen the government use all in its power in seeking justice for the more than 1,000 people who died in the 2007/8 Post-Election Violence (PEV).

The government threatened to leave the ICC if her demands were not met, why don’t we see such threats for justice for the victims?

Why are we not seeing efforts made at getting justice for the women who were raped, people who were forcefully evicted?

When the Kenyan media calls this a win for Kenya, do they mean that William Ruto, Joshua arap Sang’ (and maybe Uhuru Kenyatta) are more Kenyans than those who lost their lives, were raped, were evicted, lost property?

This was definitely not a win for Kenya but an attempt to subvert the justice process against the victims of PEV.

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