, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 6 – Eldoret North Member of Parliament William Ruto has dismissed Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s vow to have the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) cases against four Kenyans referred back to the country if he elected president in the forthcoming elections.
He accused the Premier of being two-faced claiming that Odinga had in the past opposed a local trial and had been insisting on their trials at The Hague based Court.
Ruto, who together with Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta have been indicted by the ICC, also took issue with the Prime Minister’s remarks that they would still face trial even if they won the presidency.
On November 5 while in Eldoret, the Prime Minister said he would lobby to have the four Kenyans facing charges at the ICC tried locally if elected President during the general election slated for March 4, 2013.
“The Prime Minister is on record saying that we shouldn’t even be free men and that we should be talking from the gallows. But for political expediency he wants to create a make-believe story,” he argued.
“What he is engaging in is political conman-ship and I think he should be informed that there is a shortage of foolish people in Kenya,” he quipped.
But in a rejoinder, Odinga issued a strongly worded statement saying Ruto was the main driver of a campaign against the establishment of a local process to try suspects of the 2008 violence.
The PM accused Ruto of attempting to derail the attention of Kenyans from the issues that drove Kenyans to the violence.
“Ruto was the conductor of the choir whose hit song was ‘Don’t be vague, go for The Hague!’ In his thinking at that point in time, proceedings would have started in 2090 which was then in his view way beyond the lifetimes of most of us,” the statement signed by Eliud Owalo, Odinga’s campaign manager, read.
Four Members of Parliament allied to The National Alliance (TNA) also rubbished the Premier’s call saying the time to act was now.
Naivasha MP John Mututho, Embakasi’s Ferdinand Waititu, Moyale’s Mohamud Mohamed and nominated MP Rachael Shebesh all lashed out at the Premier urging him to stop putting salt on old wounds.
Shebesh – who recently switched allegiance from the PM’s camp – argued that the undertaking was just an attempt to hoodwink Kenyans into electing him to State House.
“We will not be blackmailed by Hillary Clinton or Kofi Annan or the Prime Minister. It would be unfortunate that what we saw is a kind of a threat or plan to demoralise our core support base,” she said.
“We want to bring healing to this country and if it will take being blackmailed and being called names we will take it,” she stressed.
She further urged Odinga to separate political and judicial processes saying the country was not yet out of the woods. Waititu also asked the Prime Minister to stop playing tricks on Kenyans’ minds saying they will not be fooled.
He at the same time maintained his stance that the PM had something to do with the fate of four Kenyans wanted by The Hague based Court.
“We know that the ICC process is political especially because of what the Prime Minister said and we know he knows how the Kenyan cases landed at The Hague so we are asking him to bring them back to Kenya before the elections,” said Waititu.
Mututho added that the Prime Minister’s promise did not hold any water as he had not made any firm undertaking to facilitate the same.
He maintained that the TNA was still in the race and that the two presidential hopefuls, who are facing cases at the ICC over post election violence charges, would still seek the presidency even while facing trial.
“All we are asking him is to start now and then we can consider him for President. Kenyans are sane people,” he said. “Otherwise he should just keep quiet and allow the process to take its course.”
Mohamed also asked the Premier to use his position to immediately bring back the ICC cases.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has also said that when elected President he will seek to refer the ICC cases to a local judicial mechanism.
He argued that the deferral mission he was involved in would have been successful had the Orange Democratic Movement not written to the United Nations Security Council objecting to the deferral of the cases.
The ICC has already expressed concern over the political direction that the Kenyan cases have taken.
When the Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visited the country last month she said she was concerned that Kenyans had refused to divorce the ICC process from national politics.
“Unfortunately, the ICC process still continues to be linked to the political process. I have explained several times this has to be separated… that there is no political responsibility before the ICC. But despite of all that it keeps coming up. The communities I have visited are finding it difficult to separate the two,” she said on October 27.
It is interesting to note that while she was making her rounds in the country trying to get the post election violence victims’ opinion of the Court, a majority questioned the credibility of the evidence gathered by her predecessor Luis Moreno Ocampo.
Some even asked her how the Court arrived at its decision to try four Kenyans who were at the time perceived to be of two major political divides.
Eldoret North MP William Ruto and radio personality Joshua arap Sang are targeted in case one while Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura are targeted in case two.