, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga fired yet another salvo at his arch-rival William Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta whom he accused of setting the stage for non-cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they are facing charges for crimes against humanity.
In a statement attacking the two ICC suspects only a day after another one published in newspapers on Sunday, the Prime Minister said outcries by the two leaders was only meant to seek sympathy from Kenyans, yet some of them are the ones who voted to have cases against post-election violence suspects tried in The Hague.
“It is this spirit of impunity that frustrated efforts to establish a local tribunal to deal with post-election violence,” a statement from the Raila Odinga Secretariat said adding “Parliament was mobilised to defeat the Constitutional amendment that sought to do this, with the main perpetrators cunningly creating the false impression that they sought real justice, and could only achieve it through the ICC. The reality is that they did not wish the matter to be addressed at all – locally or otherwise.”
Ruto and Kenyatta have previously accused Odinga of using the ICC to lock them out of the presidential race in which both have expressed interest during the next general elections.
The statement issued late Monday went on to say “The same people shouting then, “Don’t be vague, let us go to The Hague,” are the ones now demonising the ICC. They seek to kill two birds with one stone – dragging the Prime Minister and other innocent parties into their self-inflicted woes, and at the same time making political capital out of the ICC matter.”
An earlier statement issued on Saturday from the Prime Minister’s secretariat was met with anger and fury from Kenyatta and Ruto who termed Odinga, a “principal beneficiary of the post election chaos” that rocked Kenya soon after the 2007 disputed presidential election.
The two last week lost a bid to appeal charges against them at the ICC and are now left with an admissibility challenge which will determine if they will stand trial at the Hague-based court, sometimes in May or even earlier.
The Prime Minister accused the two of “unnecessarily” linking the ICC charges to the country’s national election.
Odinga believes Kenyatta and Ruto are the real beneficiaries of the post election violence, contrary to the Sunday announcement by Ruto that it is Odinga who benefited most.
“The real beneficiaries of post-election violence are only too evident. They include those currently in the process of returning property acquired in areas where post-election violence victims were known to have been dispossessed of their land. Now these beneficiaries are rushing to return the land, in order to evade court processes. What greater admission of guilt could there be?,” the premier posed in an apparent reference to a move by Ruto to return land being claimed by an IDP in an ongoing court case.
Odinga said he does not see why the two are linking the ICC issue to the general election Kenyans are gearing up to participate in later this year when President Kibaki relinquishes power.
“The ICC has unfortunately now become an election issue. But since it is an election issue, let it now be known that the coming elections will also be a referendum on impunity. The time has come when every one of us must stand up to be counted. Either you are for the rule of law, or you are for impunity. It can’t be both. A choice must be made,” the terse statement from the Raila Odinga Secretariat said.
There was no immediate reaction to this latest barrage from the DPM or Ruto.
Cases against the two were confirmed in January alongside those of Journalist Joshua arap Sang and former Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura, a key ally of President Mwai Kibaki who served most of his life in the public service.
And to stress his point, Odinga did not mince his words in the statement which sought to elaborate on the exact cause of the 2007-08 chaos in the country, largely blaming suspects facing charges in The Hague.
“Some forces with a selfish agenda of their own, which included settling scores that had nothing to do with the elections, took advantage of the ensuing protest against this disenfranchisement of the Kenyan electorate,” the statement said.
Similar occurrences had occurred in parts of the country in 1991-92 and in 1997.
Some 1,300 Kenyans were killed, more than half a million others forcefully renditioned and thousands suffered all manner of indignity, classified in the international system as crimes against humanity.
“The victims were Kenyan citizens. They were not occupying forces from some foreign country, whose killing and eviction might have been cause for heroism and celebration. The matter was then supposed to pass quietly away, as in 1992 and 1997, and to wait for another election and another wave of crimes against innocent citizens,” said the statement from the Prime Minister’s secretariat.
He also warned the duo against dragging him in the murky waters of the woes they are facing and instead advised them to “seek to defend themselves in the impending trial. If they are innocent, as they have frequently professed at charged public rallies, the court will no doubt acquit them. No public petulance on their part can substitute for the court process. Nor can forged documents and the besmirching of innocent persons’ reputations assist them.”
On Thursday, Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo tabled a document in Parliament purportedly authored by the British government which they also linked to Odinga alleging a conspiracy to have President Kibaki face charges at The Hague over the post election violence.
The UK government has since disowned the alleged dossier as a forgery.
“It is clear that the present posturing against the ICC, complete with the weaving in of the PM’s name and that of the British Government, is a dress rehearsal for non-cooperation with the ICC. It is clear that the foundation is being laid for the accused to refuse to attend trials of the cases against them,” the premier’s secretariat said.