ICC is not meddling in African Affairs, this Truth Shall Set You Free!

2013-10-10 16:19

The African Union is sitting this weekend in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the powerful theme Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance. And the elephant at the AU Conference Centre will be whether African countries should pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or not.

This is an old debate but definitely recently the issue has garnered some force because the current sitting President and Deputy President  in Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are on trial by ICC for the alleged roles they played in the violence and mass murders that followed Kenya’s hotly contested national elections of 2007.

The Chairman of the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities, H.E. Kofi Annan, after thorough investigations and mediations throughout Kenya concluded and recommended that there must be a special court to deal with the violence and mass killings that occurred.

With the ICC now in the picture, there has been much speculations and often inaccurate public and political discourse regarding the ICC’s reasons for charging Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

But I am going to outline and lay down a series of truths here that hopefully will set you free from this scuffle.

Too many people have forgotten that there were many intensive efforts by ICC throughout 2008 and 2009 encouraging Kenya to establish genuine national proceedings to deal with the post election violence.

Despite efforts to pass necessary legislation to take this process forward by November 2009 the process of legislation reached a stalemate. And there was no reasonable prospect of resolution. It was only then that ICC opened an investigation and the Kenyan Government at that time fully supported the ICC intervention.

ICC intervened in this matter only after the Kenyan’s efforts to establish a domestic mechanism to investigate the violence and mass murders failed.

This process was in line with the ICC mandate as the court of last resort. ICC only intervenes when all national efforts have been exhausted and still there is no justice being done.

The charges of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were subjected to a rigorous independent judicial scrutiny at various key stages.

In 2010 the judges of the ICC pre-trial chamber authorized the investigations after concluding that there were sufficient bases that the crimes before the Court have been committed. And then in 2011 the ICC prosecutors concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta were responsible for the violence, killings and mass murders; and so summonses were issued for them to appear before the ICC judges.

Despite certain arguments heard in certain corners to have the case referred back to Kenya now that Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, are heads of Kenya, the situation on the ground has still not changed: there are still no national mechanisms to deal with the violence and the murders effectively.

The Kenyan Attorney General Githu Muigai has spoken and recognized the ICC as a Kenyan Court. ICC is not about the trial of Kenya or of the Kenyan people or meddling in African affairs.

And what are the charges precisely? Let us look at those brought to William Ruto only…

William Ruto is being charged for the role he is alleged to have played in the terrible crimes against the Kenyan people during the 2007 post election violence, William Ruto as a powerful politician in the Rift Valley region, the region that was worst affected by the violence. Over 50 000 homes in the region were mowed down to the ground, and tens of thousands of people fled the area. The number of displaced Kenyans from the Rift Valley rose from 200 000 to 400 000.

It is difficult to imagine the suffering or the terror of the men and the women, and also children who were burnt alive, hacked to death or chased from their homes by armed youths.

A vast majority of the victims of these heinous violence where ethnic Kikuyu who were or perceived to be supporters of the Party of National Unity (PNU), the PNU was contesting the elections against Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – a party which William Ruto was a powerful leader.

The Kikuyu ethnic group was the minority in the Rift Valley. The majority of people in the Rift Valley are the Kalenjin ethnic group – which William Ruto comes from. The Kalenjins have historically perceived the Kikuyus as the unwelcomed settlers who have taken the land that the Kalenjins consider to be their ancestral land.

The question that needs to be answered is who is responsible for these atrocious crimes of mass murder, persecution and deportation. Who is responsible?

The ICC Chief Prosecutor and leading the investigations Fatou Bensou – a fairly highly efficient African woman prosecutor – asserts that William Ruto is the most responsible.

William Ruto is alleged to have exploited the historical tensions between his tribe, the Kalenjins and the Kikuyus in the Rift Valley for his own political and personal ends. The Chief Prosecutor asserts that the violence and mass murders were not random acts of brutality. On the contrary, it was a carefully planned, coordinated and executed campaign of violence specifically targeting perceived PNU (mostly Kikuyus) supporters; attacking their homes and businesses.

The Chief Prosecutor is asserting that William Ruto’s ultimate goal was to take political power for himself and his party through violent means in the event that he loses the elections of 2007. William Ruto wanted to change the political make-up of the Rift Valley by destroying the Kikuyus in order to consolidate his political power base amongst the Kalenjins.

William Ruto is said to have organized and assembled an tribal “network”; and he assigned responsibilities, raised finance, procured weapons and hosted meetings in furthering the criminal acts of the “network”.

Using Kalenjin community structures, William Ruto gathered an army of Kalenjin youths to go to war for him in the event of the election loss. He also stoked the flames of anti-Kikuyu sentiments both personally, at public rallies and through the media, declaring that the Kikuyus are weeds that needed to be uprooted and also saying that the Kikuyus are like spots on the skin.

And so when he lost the elections of 2007, William Ruto gave the orders to the “network” to attack, and the “network” attacked! That is the case that was presented to ICC Judge President Chile Eboe-Osuji, an African judge, born, raised and educated in Nigeria.

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