It is becoming increasingly clear that Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto do not stand chance of fair trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the crimes-against-humanity charges they’re facing.
In recent weeks and months, key figures involved in the prosecution and in the so-called continuing mediation efforts are making reckless pronouncements designed to prejudice the cases.
The ground is clearly being expertly prepared for a massive miscarriage of justice and the first international show trial of the 21st Century.
Indeed, on Monday this week, Uhuru significantly observed, “Even suspects have their own rights in their own nations. From the time we were named, we said we were determined to follow due process to clear our names, but this does not mean we should be denied our rights.”
The Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, and Kenya’s chief mediator Kofi Annan, have made remarks that are explicitly intended to stand in the way of Uhuru and Ruto’s ultimate political ambitions. But both have denied that they are interfering in Kenya’s politics.
In October, soon after a week-long visit to Kenya, Bensouda issued a press statement in which she made clear for the first time the extent to which she was going to rely on evidence adduced by hidden witnesses against Uhuru. Such ‘evidence’ and such ‘witnesses’ are the stuff that show trials in the totalitarian states of the 20th Century used to be made of. Even Uhuru’s worst enemies inside Kenya can see that the ICC really has it in for the DPM.
And then, this week, in remarks that somehow coincided with the announcement of Uhuru and Ruto’s joint ticket for the 2013 presidential race, Annan parachuted into the centre of Kenya’s General Election campaign.
On the BBC, Annan told Kenyans that it is “not in the interest of the country” for the electorate to elect a leader “who will not be able to freely interact with the rest of the world, including travelling to some countries.”
When the BBC reporter urged Annan to come out and state whether he was in fact urging Kenyans not to elect Uhuru and Ruto, he denied this and snapped “do not put words in my mouth.”
Every Kenyan could see right through Annan’s cynicism and advance-rigging mentality.
If this is Annan in public, how does he behave behind closed doors at, say, the Kenyan Judiciary, where he has met the President of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of Kenya, Dr Willy Mutunga, not once but twice in recent weeks?
The fiction about Kenya’s international isolation being peddled by the likes of Annan in the event Uhuru and Ruto are elected is nonsense.
For completely different reasons, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta did not travel abroad after 1964 for the rest of his life, yet Kenya enjoyed a profile that was higher than anything that came before or since. A competent, high-profile head of the Foreign Office (the Foreign Secretary), the rest of the Cabinet outside the presidency, and the Brand Kenya Board launching a particularly creative nation-branding campaign is all we would need.
The thing to note is that we are looking at a political fault line here, a political divide, the fruit of adversarial politicking and negative ethnicity.
And yet Annan can stand there, with a smirk on his face, and assure the world that the ICC process is devoid of politics. From where I am standing, he is himself a political player now and anyone who says otherwise is a psychopathological liar.
Enough of mind games: The ICC is clearly out to bring down its biggest prey yet – two top political leaders from a functioning, not a failed, State. This is an act of desperation and a clutching after continuing relevance. But it is not justice.
In fact, it is the ICC itself that runs the highest risk of isolation and international opprobrium in 2013 should the perception gain ground inside Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa, that a free and fair trial is just not possible at The Hague for these two national leaders. It is a perception that, with their recklessly partisan periodic utterances, operatives like Bensouda and Annan are doing their damndest to spread and entrench.
(The writer is the Director of Communications of The National Alliance, TNA. Waikenda@TNA.co.ke)