, THE HAGUE, Sept 2 – A win for President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity in the country’s 2007 elections was seen by his rivals as a “signal to go to war”, a prosecutor told the world crimes court on Friday.
Two former Kenyan ministers, William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, and radio presenter Joseph arap Sang are alleged to have carefully planned the 2007-8 violence in which over 1,300 people died.
“An electoral victory for Kibaki would be a signal for war against Kikuyu members,” Cynthia Thai told the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).
The trio is facing a second day before the Hague-based court to see if they should stand trial for masterminding Kenya’s deadly post-poll violence in 2007-08.
Senior ICC trial prosecutor Thai said of the three: “Their whole intention and purpose was to attack supporters of (Kibaki’s) Party of National Unity” and members of Kenya’s Kikuyu tribe, perceived as PNU supporters.
Seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2012, Mr Ruto, a former Higher Education Minister, as well as ex-industrialisation minister Mr Kosgey and radio executive Mr Sang are facing charges of crimes against humanity including murder, forcible transfer and persecution.
Messrs Ruto, 44, Kosgey, 64 and Sang, 35, were supporters of opposition candidate – now Prime Minister – Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and are alleged to have targeted President Kibaki supporters after the disputed 2007 polls.
The hearings, during which prosecutors will try to convince the court they have enough evidence to go to trial, are scheduled to run until September 12.
A second set of hearings will start on September 21 for three other suspects, including Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding president and the country’s Finance Minister.
Thai told the court Friday that Mr Ruto and Mr Kosgey carefully planned post poll violence against Kibaki’s supporters in the Rift Valley.
“The violence (in Kenya) was not spontaneous, it was because William Ruto and Henry Kosgey created an organisation for gaining power,” she said.
Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 27, 2007 general elections in which then opposition chief Mr Odinga accused President Kibaki of having rigged his way to re-election.
Prosecutors said 1,300 people were then killed and more than 600,000 displaced in the east African country’s worst outbreak of violence since independence in 1963.