The Kenyan general election has been narrowly won by Uhuru Kenyatta, a man facing trial at the International Criminal Court for his alleged part in the killing of over a thousand people following the general election in 2007. The question must therefore be asked: why would a nation someone who stands accused of such crimes against humanity?
The Kenyan general election has been narrowly won by Uhuru Kenyatta, a man facing trial at the International Criminal Court for his alleged part in the killing of over a thousand people following the general election in 2007.
The son of Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya, Uhuru faces trial in The Hague, accused of sponsoring and organising the devastating post election violence in 2007. His running mate William Ruto faces the same charge.
The question must therefore be asked: why would a nation elect two candidates who stand accused of such crimes against humanity?
After victory in the 2007 elections was awarded to Mwai Kibaki, homes were set alight in the Kibera slum region during the swearing in ceremony in protest at the outcome of the election, sparking violence that led to the deaths and displacement of thousands of people.
The election outcome was disputed, and Kenyan and international observers claimed there was widespread vote-rigging.
To secure justice for the victims, the initial plan was for proceedings to be held in Kenya, on a Truth and Reconciliation basis, in order to avoid inflaming the inter-ethnic sensitivities that characterised the political violence after the 2007 elections.
The Waki report set out the options for getting justice for the victims. The government declined to have domestic hearings, leaving the ICC as the only option.
Kenyans, still suffering the aftermath of the injustices in the post election period in 2007, and genuinely wanting justice, supported the plan for ICC prosecutions and expected those accused to be found guilty.
The first possible explanation for Kenyatta’s win is the claim is that the facts about the ICC indictment has been kept from the Kenyans, with Kenyatta and Ruto giving the electorate the message that the indictments are about ethnic persecution by the European court.
The second potential explanation is the perceived power relations, and past colonial relations between Europe and Africa so that many Kenyans have now been persuaded to think of the charges from the ICC as being about western interference in Africa’s continuing journey toward political and stability in the post colonial world.
Kenya’s sensitivity to the role played by the British government has moved the latter to reassure the Kenyan people that it only operates at arm’s length, and with relevant approvals.
Kenyatta therefore has given his nation the clear message that it is the country’s political processes, and in particular the post-election processes of 2007, rather than criminal behaviour by him as in individual, that is on trial.
Clearly only half of the population bought this as the vote only narrowly avoided a run-off vote, with the Kenyatta/Ruto ticket only securing 50.07 per cent of the vote and with the nearest opponent, Raila Odinga, claiming vote-rigging in this election and vowing to seek a legal review of the voting processes.
Kenyatta’s victory also means western governments will be reluctant to deal with the new government given the ambiguity over the culpability of the President.
Kenyans are still licking their wounds after the 2007 elections and want to move forward. So here was an opportunity to do just that, to cast Kenyatta and Ruto to their fate, if they are culpable, and move on with a stable government process.
But the Kenyans voting for Kenyatta and Ruto feel they will be getting just that, as they do not believe the two will be found guilty.
The trial in The Hague starts in July, and both the president-elect and the deputy president-elect will plead not guiltyLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.