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Kenyans grow weary of ICC process – poll

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – With barely two weeks to go before the start of the confirmation of charges hearing for the Ocampo Six, a new poll indicates that support for the ICC trials among Kenyans has dropped by 12 percent since October last year.

Synovate Kenya Managing Director Maggie Ireri said the survey conducted between June and July this year shows that 56 percent of Kenyans support The Hague process, compared to 68 percent recorded 10 months ago.

She attributed the drop to sustained grassroots and media campaigns carried out by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto to discredit the Hague process.

“Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have been holding campaigns which have been used to whip up support from their ethnic communities and have borne fruit if the Synovate poll is any indication,” she said when releasing the poll results on Friday.

Ms Ireri added; “Kenyans were prepared to support the ICC process until leaders from their communities were named showing that tribal mathematics remains a key factor on this issue.”

The survey shows that public support for the ICC process has significantly waned in Central Province and the Rift Valley, which are viewed as political strongholds of the two suspects. Support for the ICC in Central Province has declined from 73 percent in October to 36 percent; Rift Valley from 61 percent to 37 percent and in Eastern 71 percent to 50 percent.

“It was only after those on the list were named that Kenyans seemed to come to grips with the reality of the ICC talk,” she explained.

In contrast, Nairobi, Nyanza, Western and Coast provinces retain strong public support for the ICC process even after the list was made public.

“Those who support the ICC process want to see justice done and appear to have more faith in external judicial mechanisms. On the other hand, Kenyans opposed to the ICC process feel that that the Ocampo list is incomplete and also say that not enough investigation was conducted on the issue. Their preferred alternative is for the key suspects to be tried at the local courts.

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Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have announced that they intend to run for president in 2012 and since their initial appearance at The Hague in April, the two alongside other members of the G-7 political alliance have been crisscrossing the county to garner support for a unified presidential candidate to face Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“The decision by the ICC could commit to trial or set free either or both of the two presidential aspirants and this will definitely change the political landscape.  As politician position themselves for action post the ICC, he varying support level for the ICC trials by region does point to potential region al political re-alignment,” said the pollster.

Confirmation of charges hearings scheduled for September 1 and 21, will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commence war crimes charges against Messrs Ruto, Kenyatta, Civil Service Chief Francis Muthaura, former police commissioner Hussein Ali, MP Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.

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