The unforeseen hand of France in Kenya’s ICC Cases


A few weeks before the General Election, the French Ambassador to Kenya, Etienne De Poncins stated that his government backed the European Union countries stand of rooting for free, fair and peaceful elections in Kenya.

The ambassador was quick to add that the French government had no preferred presidential candidate but emphasised that consequences would be there if the final choice of leaders would be questionable.

This statement was made to warn Kenyans against voting for an Uhuru ticket as it would attract consequences from the French government. The same threats had earlier been echoed by Jonnie Carson, the former US ambassador to Kenya.

The outcome of the General Election and the subsequent ruling of the Supreme Court confirmed Uhuru and Ruto as the winners and therefore inasmuch as both French and US governments had warned of consequences if Uhuru won the presidency, they must be discontented and dissatisfied that their unnamed favourite did not win the presidential race. This was eminent when President Obama snubbed Kenya in his second visit to Africa as a President.

In this regard, there has been an intensive debate in Kenya, both pedestrian and intellectual on the Western powers desire to have Uhuru and his deputy nailed at the ICC. In fact, our former colonial masters, Britain, have been a major casualty in this debate and this has actually led to lukewarm diplomatic relationship between Kenya and Britain.

Britain has faced accusations of attempting to bring regime change in Kenya and especially when they funded the ICC in prosecuting the Kenyan cases despite the usual funding that the Assembly of State Parties to the ICC contributes annually. Britain has been accused of being against the Sino-Kenya relationship as it is largely denying it business from Kenya and therefore would be comfortable working with a government that does not face the “East” unlike Kibaki and Uhuru administrations.

To sum it, this frosty relationship has again been debated in the House of Commons two times this year where some Members of Parliament, led by Eric Joyce, have condemned the current stance of Britain towards the Kenyan cases before the ICC.

The US and Britain have significantly been accused of using the ICC cases to advance their sectarian interests in Kenya but other powerful countries, which equally sit in the United Nations Security Council that President Zuma recently dismissed as archaic, have not received the same attention.

However, this does not mean that these countries, and specifically France, have no vested interest in the Kenyan case. Although France has no serious economic and security interests in Kenya like Britain and the US respectively, a closer analysis of the relationship between France and its Francophone West African countries gives a hint on French engendered interest in the Kenyan ICC cases. The diverging view between the Francophone speaking countries and the East and Southern African countries during the recent African Union summit tells the French interest in the ICC’s intervention in Kenya.

Whereas the Sub-Saharan countries were of the view that Uhuru and Ruto’s cases should be deferred and also African countries should un-sign from the Rome statute to the ICC, a majority of the Francophone African countries were of the view that African states should not withdraw from the ICC and that these cases should continue.

To many observers, this divergence of approach between the two African blocs is mainly because of the French government lobbying of its former colonies. In the past, France has undertaken high level training on ICC in Senegal for representatives of countries of West Africa, in Cameroon for representatives from Francophone countries of Central Africa, and in Tunisia for representatives of Maghreb and Middle East countries and this may largely dictate their view about the ICC intervention in Kenya.

However, the support for ICC in Western African countries is not actuated by its desire for international criminal law and human rights as observed by many but only for using it a tool for regime change. It has succeeded to remove President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire from power and have him surrendered to the ICC for trials. It further led the assault on Libya which had resulted in referral of Gaddafi and his cronies to the ICC.

If France attitude towards ICC is genuine, together with the US, they would have not opposed UN’s immediate action to stop the Rwandan genocide. For now, the ICC matter will be used by the French government to try regaining its lost glory in the former Francophone countries like Burundi and Rwanda which have joined the East African Community. Rwanda has now transformed from Francophone to Anglophone and refused to join the ICC and this remains of concern to France.

(Mwangi is a lawyer –

24 Replies to “The unforeseen hand of France in Kenya’s ICC Cases”

  1. that’s a good piece, well reasoned. It is however debatable whether we actually need ICC or whether we should agree as a country, that a crime was committed, no one is sure by who. we have however developed from that and have more made some peace, while we need justice, we should also consider the purpose of the outcome. We have learned our lessons. Other countries, west east and Africa should appreciate we are not a failed state. We should also act to prove that.

    1. I thought the kenyan cases were referred to ICC by the kenyan parliament in 2010. they had the option of a local tribunal which they rejected and voted us to
      Hague. why now these disturbing inuendo that; western powers including France and others are using ICC for regime change. I mean only a FOOL can believe this. Even Koffi Annan pursuaded the 10th pariarment that; a local mechanism was the best option, but they called him names the same way they are now directing their negative energy elsewhere. Even learned lawyers these days are untruthful and feeding unsuspecting citizens with LIES and PROPOGANDA

      1. A parliament cannot refer a case to the ICC. Why is it that people that debate the ICC issue are so devoid of fact? Only the Executive (in a signed referal), the UNSC or the OTP can. Nobody else. Not even a crowd of people chanting twende hague can refer anything to the ICC!!
        Nendeni shule!!

        1. And by your estimation, what exactly happened? I thought we had only two options:- local tribunal or Hague! The guy sitting in that little house in the hill then was only supposed to decide with his mob where to take suspects FULLSTOP. I suspect you are the one less informed!

          1. Pratt, this is the problem that occurs when people read stuff online and form legal opinions based on the reading. You thought wrong. Who told you those were the options Kenya had? The ICC? Who created the option? The UNSC?
            FULLSTOP nothing. This again shows just how ignorant people are on what actually happened.
            A schooling: The OTP initiated the Kenya ‘situation’. Not Kenya, Not the AU and not the UNSC.
            Please get a clue.

          2. Ignorance has potential to make us twist things. And moreso, when we are only involved in tribal loyalty defence, not facts. So drewpal, be careful not to cook up nothing and believe in it. Call it enormous self-mislead if you want!!!!

          3. OK, simplehere. I know for a fact you are obviously clueless on this. Tell me this and I shall concede. On what date did the state of Kenya file a referal with the ICC? Who signed it (hoping of course you know it must be signed by the state party head unless incapacitated. If not, read the statute rules on referal procedure)?
            I know for a fact none of this ever happened. You seem to think you have info proving otherwise. Show it.
            Or else, quit posting rubbish!

          4. Wow …. !! You are confusing issues. Because you want things your own way but not facts. Kenya situation was necessitated by something close to civil war. Kibaki’s re-election was NOT RECOGNIZED. Mediators were called in. Grand coalition, essentially of two governments in one, was eventually formed. Central authority was patently not there. Every single decision needed consultation between coliation partners. Kibaki’s legitimacy as president was clearly questioned by negotiators. With no clear centre of power, Waki commission was constituted. That was part of national accord. Findings of that commission were to be given to to chief negotiator, Kofi Annan and a “divided” government. After Waki commission made recomendations, coalition partners were to form a local tribunal to try suspects. When impunity merchants failed to take action, H.E. Kofi Annan, even at first threatened to hand over suspects’ names to ICC prosecutor. Meanwhile, Kibaki was doing everything possible to shield those suspects, who had not been disclosed to the public. After months of inaction, Annan eventually handed over the envelope containing 20 suspects to ICC. Ocampo took charge. He then selected some few guys bearing the highest responsibility. We were again afforded another opportunity to form a local tribunal. We refused and we gladly opted to go to Hague. So in nutshell, our situation was totally different from these other cases you refered to. Ours is self-inflict with near absence of state!

          5. And just to diasabuse you of the idea that you know anything Kwessi Pratt, here is exact text for your perusal.It could help you catch a clue:
            “The situations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic were referred by the States in question, and the situations in Darfur, Sudan, and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were referred by the United Nations Security Council. In each case, the Prosecutor decided that there was a reasonable basis for the opening of investigations. The investigation into the situation in Kenya was authorized by Pre-Trial Chamber III following a request from the Prosecutor.”

            Get that?? A request from the prosecutor. NOT a referal!
            Now, shut up!!

  2. Beautiful piece, Dann. Been wondering why the diplomats from some of these nations are being given lukewarm treatment by UK. Now I know…

  3. Europe is too deeply involved in this ICC business. If I remember correctly, wasn’t it the EU that was awarded the Nobel prize for peace. Has the EU taken a closer look at how the ICC does its work? UhuRuto should not accept any inducements from the EU to remain in the ICC. The ICC is not for peace but rather for colonial domination over Africa. The sooner we withdraw from it the better.

  4. The French-African relationship is pretty scary. Some years back in Paris I saw African soldiers from former French colonies marching in the Bastille Day parade, in salute to the French president. Reacting negatively, I was informed that to be a presidential candidate in a former French colony, “Paris” has to approve you. Eeuuh.

    Al Jazeera carried a piece in August called “The French Connection” which references Francafrique. It puts their wierd relationship in perspective.

  5. This is a balanced opinion and those speaking otherwise are not uneconomical with the truth. There is now some concrete evidence that ICC couched and bribed witnesses. The Ruto/Sang’ case exposes several giant loopholes and mishaps in the office of the Prosecutor. Such simple issues as ascertaining if the witness went to a particular political rally or crosschecking on dates as well as speeches made by ruto/sang against the witness’ statements were neglected by OTP. Quite a shame!

  6. Mara oh Obama is finishing Kenya. Mara oh it is the UK which wants to promote “neocolonialism”. Mara oh it is just same old Raila working with Ocampo. Now it is all the fault of the French. Rubbish. Those who are brave enough to kill citizens including little babies should get a little courage to face trial. Finally muthamaki will have to make a decision of going to The Hague or becoming an international fugitve. It is a decision he will have to make for himself. All these craybaby stuff is useless.

        1. Exactly! And there was this matter of somebody stopping his community from being finished. Can this mukuag tell us what it was?

  7. But do you agree Kazi that OTP investigations and evidence now presented by witnesses have so far been anything but VERY wanting? Infact there is alot of incriminating evidence for Sang/Rutto. That points to a political court that is only there to try ‘dissidents’ and weak ‘outcasts’. If you think france is better off, go there and feel the racism within. You will learn more.

  8. Tribalistic Kenyans are lost, if not decidely dishonest. Foreign governments are free to choose their friends. They even have a right to caution friends from taking wrong turns. Mostly, morality is behind such decisions. In Kenya for instance, criminal suspects with solid support from Kibaki’s tribalistic leadership, had albiet deceptively, started gaining ground. West was worried their most important ally in E. Africa, had started showing signs of assaulting democracy. Needless to say, even in non-democratic countries, criminal suspects have NEVER EVER found a seat on the high table! Its against that background our western friends mildly cautioned us.

    However, some Kenyans, largely driven by kinship, have set themselves against these noble cautions. Thats by creating false notion foreign powers wanted regime change in the country. They forget had such scheme been on the cards, they had no power to stop it at all … at all! Furthermore, despite pretences to the contrary, Kenya, a begging nation, has not reached anywhere near stopping any foreign powers from effecting any regime change if they so wished.

    Nonetheless, since tribalists were left alone to con Kenyans at will, they feel like they pulled a fast one on western powers! Thats absurd self-deception. West was only concerned with schemes to plant criminal suspects at the top of Kenyan leadership. But since they had not reckoned with tribalists that at time controlled power levers in the country, they assumed we wont crown suspects emperors. They repeatedly reminded us that they wont deal with suspects if we made a mistake of giving them the high table seat. Unknown to them, decision to crown suspect was taken several years back. However, to credit of the west as events have shown, they meant business when they told us they wont deal with suspects, little business or no business!!!!

  9. Remember
    Bob Marley Time Will Tell Lyrics:

    Time alone – oh, time will tell: Ya think you’re in heaven, but ya living in hell.

    Lock them up; oh, not the brothers,
    But the ones who sets ’em up.

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