, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8 – The second witness in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang has told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Ruto was the “king” of the Rift Valley Province before the 2007 General Election.
According to witness 326, Ruto was crowned king before the disputed election that is blamed for the deaths of more than 1,000 people and displacement of over 650,000 others.
“Ruto was our king for ODM in Rift Valley. He was the king of that region…he was representing the whole of Rift Valley,” the witness told the court.
He recounted to Trial Chamber V (a) that during Ruto’s crowning, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Pentagon members were present.
The witness illustrated Ruto’s strong influence in the Rift Valley and his key role in ODM politics in the region.
He said Ruto’s command in the region’s politics was witnessed during ODM campaign rallies and was also evident in the results after the election, since he delivered the Rift Valley vote.
“Ruto’s effort was seen during the campaign time and even during election time. He campaigned seriously and delivered for ODM within the Rift Valley. There were a number of nominees because almost 90 percent of the parliamentary seats in the region were ODM,” he said.
During his explanation on key leaders appointed to head ODM politics in various regions in the country, the witness said Ruto was in charge of the Rift Valley and he appointed Josephine Kuluo to coordinate the North Rift and Ole Kina Koitemet to manage ODM elections and nominations in the South Rift.
According to the witness, Ruto like other regional leaders handled ODM nominations, campaigns and among others, election disputes that arose in the party in his region.
The witness however could not ascertain if Ruto offered any financial support to ODM nominees in the region.
“For candidates who were not able financially, the party could give them some amount of money. If he is also a friend of Ruto he would also talk and get assistance. I can’t be specific that he provided for them financial assistance but being close and loyalists maybe they had assistance,” he explained.
Despite the seriousness of the matter before the court, light moments were unavoidable after the prosecution asked the witness to stop looking at the defence but instead concentrate on the questions being asked.
“Your Honour I am a human being I also need to be given space to look around. I don’t think I am doing any mistake in that, maybe if I look this side or that side, please take it equal (sic) because everybody is here to listen to what I am saying,” he said.
“You are quite right, you are a human being, we do not want to put you in straight jacket where you look only in one direction, but try as much as possible look at us than elsewhere,” Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji advised.
The witness also informed the court of a press conference that was attended by among other media organisations, Sang’s Kass FM.
For the first time since the trial started, the name of Sang was mentioned when the witness said he recalled him as a presenter at the station in 2007.
Before the court went into the last closed-door session on Tuesday, the witness was narrating to the court on the happenings of December 25, 2007 just days before the General Election.
The witness said there were many activities going on at a building which was identified only as ‘Building 1.’
The trial session on Tuesday went on with a series of private sessions.