, RUIRU, Kenya, Jan 28 – Embattled Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday said he had no plans to quit the government following indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Kenyatta who stepped aside as Finance Minister on Thursday told a major peace rally at Ruiru stadium in Kiambu County that he will retain the position of deputy prime minister in accordance with the constitution.
He said only Parliament can force him to relinquish the portfolio he has held since the inception of the Grand Coalition Government in 2008.
“I will not step down from the position of deputy prime minister unless a vote of no confidence is taken to Parliament and MPs approve it,’ he said.
The statement comes in the wake of a spirited campaign especially from the civil society asking him to step aside after the ICC Pre-Trial chamber confirmed charges of crimes against humanity leveled against him.
Kenyatta revealed that he had already appealed the ICC ruling issued on Monday.
“Kenya must be governed by the rule of law and not by the civil society who operate from hotels,” he said.
“I have already appealed against the ruling of the ICC Pre-Trial chamber and therefore I cannot discuss the case.”
Head of public service Francis Muthaura, one of the most influential men in President Mwai Kibaki’s circle, who also had the charges against him confirmed by The Hague-based court, resigned as well on Thursday.
He explained that he and Muthaura could have left office on Monday, but President Mwai Kibaki was away in Uganda.
Following the ICC charges, activist groups have gone to court to block Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president, from running for the presidency in elections due by March 2013.
“Those saying I and Ruto cannot vie for the presidency are day dreaming as the holder of the top job can only be determined by Kenyans in the ballot,” he said.
Kenyatta said: I am ready to work with Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka, Eugene Wamalwa, Raphael Tuju and others.”
Also at the Ruiru peace rally, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said that the Grand Coalition Government would collapse if Kenyatta was to bow to pressure and resign as Deputy Prime Minister.
“You should not listen to the voices of civil societies who are calling on you to resign as Deputy Prime Minister. We will use the law to deal with them,” he said.
A day after the ICC ruling was issued, Attorney General Githu Muigai insisted that the two officials would not be asked to quit their senior public positions until an appeal they plan to lodge in The Hague is determined.
However, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has been adamant that the Kenyatta needs to step aside from public office for the duration of his trial.