By Donald B Kipkorir
Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are baiting Kenyans to tie their future with theirs. The duo is charged with international crimes of murder, rape, deportation, persecution, and other inhuman acts.
Their cases commence at The Hague from April 10, 2013. Our General Elections are on March 4, 2013. In the most likely event that we don’t get a presidential winner on this day, a run-off between the top two winners will be held on or before April 4, 2013, and the president-elect shall be sworn or before April 18, 2013.
Are Kenyans ready to elect a President and running mate whose dates for swearing in to office coincide with their attendances in criminal proceedings at The Hague?
My paths and those or Uhuru and Ruto have crossed multiple times since 1992 when I was a student at Kenya School of Law. With Ruto, we belong to the same tribe and Eldoret is our hometown. And since I met Ruto in 1992, we have always been in the same political camp, including campaigning for the ill-fated Uhuru presidency in 2002.
As a Kalenjin, and with no shame or guilt, and inspite of my intellectual and economic independence, I consider Ruto my leader and leader of my people. But on him and Uhuru running for the 2013 General Elections, I demur. I will posit my reasons for my conflicted positions.
Kenya is a unitary nation-State but made up of 42-plus tribes. Herodotus [484-425 BC], who is regarded as the Father of History, said that an ethnic community shares similar language, cults, customs and culture. Prof Francis Fukuyama, the world’s foremost political scientist says in his seminal book, The Origins of Political Order, that “ ... tribalism remains one of the great constants of political development.’ ‘
The Constitution in Article 7 recognises this fact. In Germany, Article 29 of its Constitution divides Germany into 16 tribal regions called Bundeslander. That Ruto is the foremost leader of my people is an unchallenged fact. But is the fate of my people tied with that of Ruto?
I have argued before that the indictments against Uhuru and Ruto don’t meet the legal thresh-hold to sustain conviction. But what is undeniable now is that the duo has been indicted and the Trial Chamber of The International Criminal Court empanelled. Barring an Act of God, the trial will commence on April 10, 2013. Uhuru and Ruto may well be acquitted but as of now, they are indictees of international crimes.
International crimes are said to be jus cogens; such peremptory norms that all humanity are obligated to subscribe to. Kenya on her own volition and without duress is a signatory to the Rome Statute and which we made part of our law on December 30, 2008.
Our Constitution states that general rules of international law and treaties we have ratified form part of our law. As a country, we cannot approbate and reprobate on our international obligations.
Leadership is both power and responsibility. And both demand humility. Uhuru and Ruto need to humble themselves and in Pope-like urbi et orbi speech tell us that they will not contest the March 4 elections. Their participation will imperil our path to prosperity and realisation of our Vision 2030.
For sure, we will be a pariah state and Kenya will be reduced to trading and having relationships with Eritrea, Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria only. Is this a path that Uhuru and Ruto want us to walk?
History is always a good lesson on what happens when leaders refuse to be humble. When Alexander the Great [356-323 BC] began his conquests, he literally hijacked the gods.
In his visit to the Oracle at Delphi, he forced Pythia, the Priestess on duty, to prophecy that Alexander was unbeatable. And while visiting the Oracle of the god Ammon at Siwah in the Egyptian Desert, he forced the oracle to declare that Alexander was the son of the god Ammon.
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Ammon was Egyptian equivalent of the Greek supreme god, Zeus. By this gesture, Alexander made himself god-son. Gods had the last laugh when Alexander was killed by fever.
For their own selfish reasons, cheerleaders and sycophants are pushing Uhuru and Ruto to contest the presidency.
But it is time we must rise above our tribal and personal prejudices and tell them that it will be the most foolish thing they will have done in their lives.
Uhuru and Ruto are still in the late youth of their lives. Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) was elected US 40th President when he was 69. Abdoulaye Wade was elected President of Senegal when he was 74. Where is the urgency of time in the lives of Uhuru and Ruto?
In German mythology, the City of Hameln was over-run by rats that devastated it. The mayor invited Pied Piper to use his magic to rid the town of the rats. He did.
The mayor reneged on his part of the deal and refused to pay him. In revenge, Pied Piper came back to the town and lured him away and to their death all the children of the city.
After our 2007 elections, we descended into chaos, murder and anarchy and Pied Piper in the guise of the world community came calling and saved us. Part of the deal was that we would call to account those most responsible.
Uhuru and Ruto want us to renege. We love Uhuru and Ruto, but we love Kenya more. Uhuru and Ruto want us to tempt the gods.
As both are committed Christians, they well heed God who says that if His wrath is invited, His fury shall be “ ... fire and brimstone ...” (Revelations 4:10). We may all be brave, powerful and rich, but we can never tempt the gods. And Kenya is being made to tempt them.
The author is an Advocate of the High Court