, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta maintains that not even a war crimes case at The Hague can pull him out of the race to succeed President Mwai Kibaki.
Kenyatta, who is awaiting a verdict from the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber on whether he should face trial over the 2008 post election violence, said he would press on with his presidential campaign regardless of the ruling which is expected by January 23.
The Finance Minister said his desire to become Kenya’s president is driven by a vision to improve the lives of all Kenyans.
“My campaign is not built around the ICC; my campaign is built around an agenda and a vision which I have for a country called Kenya and that is what is important,” Kenyatta told reporters on Tuesday.
The Gatundu South MP asked Kenyans to maintain peace regardless of the outcome of the ICC process.
“I don’t think it will change anything in the political scenario, those who have declared their interest will continue (with their campaigns); that is the main reason why I am saying what we need most in this country is just peace and co-existence,” he said.
Gilbert Bitti, a Senior Legal Adviser to the Pre-Trial Division of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday stated that the decision would be announced on or before January 23, which marks the end of the 60-day period allowed under the Rome Statute, after defence teams made their written submissions following the conclusion of the confirmation of charges hearings in September.
Political alliance formations have already begun, in part as a response to the ICC proceedings.
The two most prominent suspects, Kenyatta and former Cabinet Minister William Ruto, as well as Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and many other like-minded politicians, are exploring the possibility of uniting behind one candidate.
The fact that the court will hand down a decision on all charges on the same day will be crucial step to help defuse a rise in ethnic tensions.
Kenyatta played this aspect down and instead urged Kenyans to maintain peace regardless of the outcome.
“There is no reason for panic or alarm, Kenyans should continue with the business of building and developing their country,” said the DPM.
Kenyatta is a suspect alongside MPs Ruto and Henry Kosgey, Public Service chief Francis Muthaura, former Police Commissioner Major General (Rtd) Hussein Ali and Kass FM presenter Joshua Arap Sang.
The suspects are accused of murder, forcible transfer, persecution, rape and other inhumane acts that led the loss of 1,333 lives and displacement of close to 500,000 others, mainly in the Rift Valley Province following a disputed presidential election contested by Kibaki and his main rival Raila Odinga.