How about a Kenyan referendum on the ICC?


There is no refuting the fact that Kenya is where we are today because of the 2007/08 post election violence. Support for institutional reforms as well as passage of the new constitution were all driven directly or indirectly by this moment of shame. The ICC – a primary result of the post election violence – is also why Kenya underwent such a peaceful election this year.

However it is time to accept that we are at the tipping point and that beyond here, the lessons of the PEV that have led to positive growth can force negative retrogression. I will not repeat myself so let us look at how we got here.

First, I have always suspected that the 2007/08 PEV led to a decision at international level that Kenya was too important to continue in a situation where nearly every election had even more violence than the last, to the extent that it was possible to project a point where an election would lead to national collapse. I am convinced that it was determined that this situation must stop, and the solution was to ensure that for the first time in the history of election-related violence, someone would be held accountable for the atrocities of the 2007 elections. This would also send a message to other African states with such ‘habits’.

The process that was initiated culminated in the ‘Waki’ Report. The then President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga then underwent considerable international pressure to start a local process to handle those suspected as responsible for the violence, or face the indignity of having their country, and maybe even they themselves, at the International Criminal Court. The two principals tried everything they could to make this happen despite their reservations, but their own political establishments had not realized the gravity of the situation and thought it was a bluff; even coming up with funny slogans about it.

Ordinary Kenyans then became quite upset that politicians seemed to be dancing on the graves of the Kenyans who had died over the years, as these politicians pursued their ambitions. A cry then seemed to go out in every village across the country that politicians must learn that violence cannot continue to be a strategy for winning elections, and the ICC became the way that this lesson would be taught.

Kofi Annan then called the politicians bluff and handed over the ‘Waki’ report to the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court; one Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Mr Ocampo got UN authority for the court to get into the Kenyan situation and used this report to start his investigations, which enabled him to move remarkably fast. Before we knew it, six Kenyans had been charged at the ICC for crimes against humanity. The ICC had unleashed the ‘dog’ on our politicians and Kenyans were ecstatic that impunity was now been tackled.

The Kenyan political establishment panicked and started back-peddling furiously on nearly everything they had said earlier. All of a sudden they believed in a local process and parliamentarians quickly mobilised to pull Kenya out of the Rome Statute; 1.4 million Kenyans put a stop to that in a petition. A desperate diplomatic offensive was then initiated to stop the ICC and allow Kenya to set up a local process; this also collapsed because it was clear Kenyans did not support it.

The political establishment had been beaten in its own game; and then the coin dropped. They realised that they were not going to win the war against the ICC process by fighting it, because this suggested they did not want to stop election-related violence. They then went out to prove that they had learnt their lesson, and were committed to violence-free politics such that Kenya would never need ICC again.

The political leadership of the two tribes that had been at the centre of political violence over the decades got into a political pact, and against all odds went ahead to win the 2013 election with a landslide. The election was also one of the more peaceful ones in Kenya’s history.

Now we need to ‘leash the dog’. Most Kenyans have supported the ICC process because it seemed able to contain the Kenyan politician and the last election proved that we achieved that. To continue to go after politicians who have literally surrendered leads to the loss of pro-ICC goodwill. At this rate it will not matter what the courts decide; Kenyans will not accept it and the lessons sought, will have been lost. Lack of this goodwill also means the ICC cases that depend on Kenyan witnesses could crumble; showing the ‘dog’ as harmless. This does not help, because should there ever be a next time (God forbid), the ICC might not be enough to stop the violence. Worst case scenario; with all these talk of referendum maybe we could also have one on what Kenyans think.

(Wambugu is the Executive Director of Change Associates Trust)

14 Replies to “How about a Kenyan referendum on the ICC?”

  1. We have already tried too many futile tricks. Retired president kibaki was not a suspect but failed miserably. We willingly and gladly approached ICC, knowing very well that once they took our cases, a reverse would be impossible. Dont we realize when things spiral out of our control?

    1. In Shaa Allah all good things have been decree for the believers Just ask for help as Kenyans. Allah is a Just responsive Lord & Creator, Allah is near to those oppressed, Allah’s powers manifest over all evil in everything! Call upon Allah by his names in all situations? Give thanks for his Swift response to his own. This is a case that is already reverse by the Kenyans even before the ICC accept that facts; all shall learn to Fear Allah as the Allah Akbar.

      1. When Jesus was fasting for Forty days and nights, Satan came to Him am asked Him to worship him. In return the devil was to give Him (Jesus) power over all kingdoms and with their splandour. Do you know which kingdoms the devil refered to? Empty almost unclean faith and reality conflict at best of all times pal!!!!

        1. pal, relax, not even ICC will take you to Statehouse. We know that obsession with ICC is not for victims but to make the road to Statehouse smoother (perhaps).

          1. A referendum on ICC is equal to a referendum to the Supreme Court. Better start here first then engage ICC. ICC is a great for the government to solve land issues and relocate the displaced during the post election violence. So better be grateful to ICC. Otherwise, nothing would be happening.

          2. These guys are wickedly self-centred. They want what benefits two or three people and not that would do miracles to to 42million Kenyans. Where were they all this time? I guess, they never thought the day of reckoning will be at hand. Of course, we had contented ourselves in believing that now our “top guys” cant be tried at all. You know during campaigns that was the special line of argument. However, guys didnt have plan B at all. Earlier, I had suggested they should get some local insurance for themselves instead of running. They never listened because they were too narrow. They believed mere election/appointment would nulify ICC cases. Its now time for them to show us the way. What they denied wont happen is actually what they are saying will happen now! In real sense, they are now admitting integrity issue was NOT PROPERLY ADDRESSED! My be they resign now??!!!

          3. We are not talking state here. But even then thievery, tripple tyrany numbers and misuse of state power can easily take anyone to state house! Two times, we conned other guys. Be sure friend it wont happen a third time. And fictitious so called tyrany numbers wont have taken anybody to state house at all. It was a mere appointment one’s successor. You expect guys with murderous charges to become anything anywhere on earth? No wonder desperation is certainly becoming overwhelming! The idea of pushing favored boys to the front was meant to circumvent ICC. However, as events have shown, it failed miserably! You know these issues of about constitutional crisis were discussed at great length in 2011 to polling day. Courts obviously with orders from above, pretended they couldnt do the job. IEBC, Supreme Court and other government agencies took for a fool. Its about time they showed us the way! Their pretentious blindness is now visiting us with national and worse. However, as clearly displayed by your pronouncements, tribalism is becoming our sure way to stagnation! ER

        2. Iqar! read the Quran to establish how well Isa (Jesus) answered Satan. Satan was cursed out of paradise has nothing to give any nor can Satan give live to anthing not even an ant. But Satan is well aware of ignorant people who don’t seek refuge in Allah surah 2v 255, 112, 113, 114, Surah 7 vs 11- 25 “Get down o earth will be a dwelling place for you to enjoying but for a time limit only Read again reflect upon why in surah 18v 50 – 51 Satan seek for mankind to submit to himself? He Satan & his helpers destroyed all the revealed books to Moses, David Isa(Jesus) But he can’t destroy the Quran as it is guarded & Mohammed is the last of the prophets until the last day on earth so that people have read & reciting the rope of Allah that is (words) of the Quran, that is alive today until the last day which Satan denys of; Let not Satan deceiver you he is helping you or any he is a plain open enemy to mankind! Read the last & protected revealed books to be guided into the right straight path decree for all mankind. The Quran! Iqar was the first command to Adam to teach all mankind how to repent purify & re-establish pure relationship with our Lord & creator.

          1. Koran is very debatable to those who are not muslims. Christians and known reocrds dont say better things about islam and its origin. Therefore, in order to avoid cruel mix up, address the issue at hand and keep those verses to yourself. Am sure you wont want us to offend each other, do you?

          2. The inviting is open to anyone who is not ignorant or in denial. Sending out an invitation to all to Read the Quran & Reflect upon its wording Read the Quran for yourself don’t follow what other are telling you Iqar! Find about Islam for yourself that is if your are seeking to know the right for wrong as decree by our Lord & Creator. Islam is we read the only one true religion acceptable to Allah decree for all mankind. Seek knowledge, guidance into the right straight path. Why would anyone have the intent to offend others by denial one access to reading the Quran for your self. History can’t be changed or denied. This is a welcome to Islam!

  2. If we can’t even deal with TJRC report after spending billions going all over the country to deal with past crimes committed by the state against the citizens why are we surprised that muthamaki is headed to The Hague. State House Nairobi has been the Vatican of political murder, assassinations, ethnic cleansing, massacres, theft of public resources, massive land grabbing and all sorts of crimes. For 50 years and counting. Let these cases be heard. Why are some people afraid of the truth. Kenya took this case to the ICC. It had nothing to do with the UN.

    1. Stagnation of our great nation was caused by selfish interest. Anyone wishing the country well wont even think of such referendum. And interestingly, when we are fiercely opposed to same referendum being conducted purely for the benefit of 42million Kenyans!!!!

  3. Pro-govt blogger suggesting a referendum when it suits his men’s interests but totally opposed to it when it is about matters of interest to Kenyans e.g. on devolution. Pathetic! Was a pain to read.

  4. Oh, so u unleash tyranny of numbers? We r not fools Mr. Sycophant! Referendum for things that affect us, like tax on basic commodities and more cash for counties and not for cases of 3 men. Have u ever had a referendum for a chicken thief? Be realistic…or get another hobby that is not writing.

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