BY MACHEL WAIKENDA
Earlier this week, President Uhuru Kenyatta was forced to take the unprecedented step of relinquishing his authority by appointing Deputy President William Ruto as acting Head of State.
Hours later, he was forced to fly out of the country to the Netherlands for a meeting with the ICC judges.
When he finally sat in the courtroom, the President, for three hours, kept mum as his lawyers argued with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. All that the President could do was nod, shake his head or smile at the arguments that were being made in front of him.
In other words, the President left the country for more than 48 hours to sit down in a courtroom and listen to arguments that would have been made without his presence.
Kenyans were watching all this and it came as no surprise that thousands of them gave him a hero’s welcome when he jetted back on Thursday.
It is no doubt that the President was duly and democratically elected by millions of Kenyans who believe in him and the work his government is doing for them. The President knows this and it is the reason that he made the unprecedented decision to go to the ICC as a private citizen because as he put it, Kenya and its populace are not on trial.
It is therefore disheartening that the ICC continues to make demands on the President and distract him from his national duties. No one can justify why he was in the Hague courtroom just to hear the same excuses of lack of sufficient evidence from the Prosecution.
In her own words, Bensouda told the judges that the scales of justice had tilted and there is no middle ground. She said it is either the judges deny her request for an indefinite adjournment and she does the natural thing of withdrawing the charges or that Kenyan is referred to the Assembly of State Parties for non-cooperation.
In short, Bensouda is asking the judges to help her make the decision of doing away with the case on her behalf. She appears afraid of making her office look like a failure but we all know it has already done so by conducting inadequate investigations.
The ICC judges are expected to make a decision in the coming weeks. Theirs is an easy job. Do as Bensouda has asked. Help the Prosecution make this decision of dropping the charges against the Kenyan President.
This burden of the President is resulting into a burden for all Kenyans by distracting him and diverting him from his core mandate. The Kenyan President does not need a distraction when there is a lot that needs to be done in the country.
This case has over the years turned into a conspiracy with witnesses withdrawing after revealing that they were coached and promised a good life abroad. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s two co-accused have since had their charges dropped leaving his accusations in question.
If the Prosecution does not have the evidence needed to take the case to trial, it is only prudent that the ICC does the honourable thing and do away with it. What the ICC should be focusing on is why its prosecution arm could not sustain the case and why is being accused by witnesses of compromising them.
ICC should also be focusing on whether this case was political as some commentators have often said. It was curious that the Prosecution, not once but twice, said that the case can be adjourned until after Kenya’s next election. What more does the world need to see that this case is a political conspiracy? Is it not immoral for the world to watch as this conspiracy continues to undermine Kenya’s sovereignty?
The ICC must take the bold step of getting this dark burden off the backs of Kenyans. It is time to make this decisive decision and let Kenyans be.
Kenyans have a country to build and do not need an unnecessary distraction. Kenya has the capacity, under its Constitution and reformed institutions to sit back and deal with the ghosts of the 2007 post-election violence and come up with local solutions.
Other than dealing with this, Kenya has a vision to develop itself into a middle-income economy in the next 15 years. Kenya has goals that can only be achieved through a stable leadership and a cohesive society.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have worked hard to see that Kenya has these two ingredients and have the support of all Kenyans of goodwill.
Our collective call as a country, therefore, is that we expect the ICC and indeed the entire international community to support these efforts. Kenyans have had enough of the back and forth by the Prosecution which appears to have clearly failed in its core mandate.
(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)