BY MACHEL WAIKENDA
Last year, 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. Reason being that he was required to go sit in a courtroom at the ICC nodding, shaking his head and smiling as his lawyers argued with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Weeks later, Bensouda said that she was withdrawing the charges against President Kenyatta because she had no evidence. Before this she had been asked by his lawyers to stop wasting valuable time over a case that was already dead from the start.
The ICC Prosecutor is at it again manipulating the justice system by attempting to use unsworn and recanted statements as evidence against the Kenyan Deputy President. We know that the court exists for the reason of dispensing justice for crimes against humanity.
However, it should also be a crime for a prosecutor to attempt to manipulate the court when it has become clear that the case is based on lies and there lacks evidence. Attempting to use statements of witnesses who have already said that they were bribed and coached is a violation of all proper professional standards.
Just like the President, William Ruto was duly and democratically elected by millions of Kenyans who believe in him and the work his government is doing for them. The Deputy President knows this and it is the reason that he has fully cooperated with the court and is always in the courtroom whenever he is required.
It is therefore disheartening that the ICC continues to make up evidence on the Deputy President and distract him from his national duties. No one can justify why he has to be haunted by statements that were not only done under oath but whose authors have said were based on hearsay.
What the ICC should be doing is going after the NGOs and its own prosecution staff that the said witnesses have claimed bribed them to make up the statements. If not, the prosecutor and the ICC judges stand accused of aiding in the abuse of the court system.
Just like in the case against President Kenyatta, the ICC Prosecutor appears afraid of making her office look like a failure but we all know it has already done so by conducting inadequate investigations.
In the coming months, William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang will be asking the court to rule that they have no case to answer. If the judges care about the fair administration of justice, they should help the prosecutor make the decision of ending the case by dismissing the charges against the two.
This burden of the Deputy President is resulting into a burden for all Kenyans by distracting him and diverting him from his core mandate. William Ruto 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. The case started with six suspects and charges have been dropped against four of them leaving the accusations against Ruto and Sang in question.
If the Prosecution does not have the evidence needed to continue with trial, it is only prudent that the ICC does the honourable thing and drops the case. 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 could 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 Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto have worked hard to see that Kenya has these two ingredients and has 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)