Kenyan minister doesn't fear ICC

2010-10-11 07:35

Washington - Kenyan Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said on Saturday that neither he nor his country had anything to fear from pending International Criminal Court arrest warrants over 2007 election violence.

The court plans warrants for up to six politicians - whose names have yet to be revealed - for organising and financing attacks on civilians after the disputed polls.

Kenyatta was among several cabinet ministers named by the state-funded Human Rights Commission as an architect of the violence. The High Court blocked Kenyatta's efforts to get his name removed from the report.

But Kenyatta told Reuters he was not concerned personally by the ICC warrants. Nor did he think they would set back Kenya's economy, East Africa's biggest. Some Kenyans have expressed fears that they could bring localised trouble.

"I don't believe it will have any major impact," he said in an interview on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington.

"Personally, I think once due process has taken place the truth eventually will come through and people will get to know what the situation was," he said. "Kenya has proved that it stands by its domestic and international commitments."

About 1 300 people were killed and more than 300 000 displaced by the 2007 political and ethnic violence.

Most Kenyans back ICC trials and analysts say trials could deter violence at the next presidential election due in 2012, but there are fears that warrants against senior officials could stir unrest in their communities.

Kenyatta is from the Kikuyu community of President Mwai Kibaki, accused by rivals in 2007 of stealing the election.

Growth forecast raised

Kenyatta said confidence in Kenya had now been restored after the election violence, particularly since a peaceful vote for a new constitution in August.

He now expected Kenyan growth would reach 5% in 2010 from an earlier forecast of 4.5% after a strong first two quarters, with promising signs on tourism, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

"All of this has gone a long way to boosting the confidence of the private sector, and that is going to be the engine of growth," Kenyatta said.

"A number of issues that we have seen have given us that optimism, but we are also still concerned about some other issues. We are monitoring the drought situation because the kind of drought we saw in the 2008-09 period did damage us."

Global currency concerns have been at the centre of the Washington meetings. Some fast-growing economies fear that appreciation of their currencies will damage their competitiveness.

Kenyatta said he did not see significant appreciation of the Kenyan shilling, which has gained about 2% against the dollar since June though it is down more than 6% in the year to date.

"I think we will see more stability," he said. "Once the economy continues at the kind of pace we're projecting, it will also mean an increased demand for imports which will mean an increased demand for dollars."