By MOSES NJAGIH
Presidential aspirants Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and MPs allied to them hit back at Prime Minister Raila Odinga over his statement that winning State House would not spare the two trials at The Hague.
On Tuesday, Uhuru told the PM he is not a stranger to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and would honour court summonses as he has done before. Ruto and Uhuru’s trials over the 2008 post-election violence start on April 10 and 11, next year. Also to be tried at The Hague are radio journalist Joshua arap Sang and former Head of the Civil Service, Francis Muthaura.
On Monday, Raila warned Uhuru and Ruto that even if either of them made it to State House, they could not stop the ICC process.
Uhuru and Ruto dismissed as deceitful an assurance by Raila he would seek to have the two cases referred to Kenya for conclusion if he is elected president.
They claimed the PM has in the past openly expressed his wish to have them jailed.
In a strong attack on the statement that Raila made while touring Ruto’s stronghold in the North Rift, the two presidential hopefuls separately told the PM to “stop playing politics of expedience”, saying he cannot ‘fool’ Kenyans that he was supporting local trials.
“The Prime Minister should know that there is a shortage of foolish people in Kenya whom he can lie to that he would support local trials of ICC cases,” said a hard-talking Ruto. The Eldoret North MP was speaking during a press conference at his United Republican Party offices in Nairobi.
Ruto added: “He is on record saying that we should not even be free, that we should be in jail. Who is he now trying to fool”?
Ruto said that Raila should not think that Kenyans “including the old men that he went cheating in Eldoret”, would fall to his deceit when he has in the past indicated that he was not for either referral or deferral of the cases.
“At the very least, the PM should be honest on this. What he is now engaging in is political conmanship (sic) which Kenyans cannot buy,” said Ruto.
He added: “He has squandered his opportunity to articulate his vision for this country and now he will be going back to the Rift Valley again to seek apology to the people of the region”.
Separately, Uhuru said Kenyans would never believe Raila’s promise that he would lobby for referral of the cases. He claimed ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o wrote to the United Nation’s Security Council against the shuttle diplomacy spearheaded by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to stop The Hague trials.
“Who can believe him now? When the Government sought deferral at the UN Security Council, his party wrote to say that it was not part of the decision. Just when did Saul become Paul,” said Uhuru, through his Director of Communication Munyori Buku.
Uhuru insisted that he and Ruto are not strangers to The Hague, as they had gone to defend themselves against the charges during the Confirmation stage, saying even now they are ready to go and prove their innocence.
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Speaking in Eldoret, Raila had said the two should not seek the country’s leadership in the hope that this would shield them from the ICC trial.
Claiming that Raila is seeking to redeem his political fortunes, Ruto wondered how his political standing diminished only weeks after the PM sought him to be his running mate.
“When I met him a few weeks ago, I was good as his running-mate, but when I declined I am neither good as the president or even any one’s running mate. What politics is this?” posed Ruto.
The URP presidential aspirant, who spoke when he received defectors from Narok and Transmara, claimed that the letter addressed to then UN Security Council President Li Baoding revealed that Raila and ODM side of the coalition were against the referral of the cases.
“He now wants to craft a make-believe theory, when Nyong’o’s letter clearly states that it was written with the express authority of the PM,” said Ruto, quoting sections of the letter on the 16 reasons against the deferral or referral of the cases.
“I don’t think the PM believes in the statements he makes. I don’t think he bothered to listen to himself, for if he did, he would know the records speak differently,” he said.
The leaders further unleashed their lieutenants who dismissed the sentiments by Raila, urging him to stop using the ICC cases as a political tool to boost his candidature.
Uhuru’s allies in TNA, Rachel Shebesh, John Mututho, Ferdinand Waititu, and Abdul Bahari dismissed Raila’s comments at a press conference in Parliament.
Mututho said Raila’s statement was “very much welcome”.
“We have been suspecting that Raila had the keys to this problem. Let him start the processes of bringing the ICC trials back here now or else he should keep quiet,” said the Naivasha MP.
Bahari said Raila should not let the four suspects go to The Hague if he had the power to refer the trials to Kenya, from The Netherlands.
“Why wait until elected president to do so? He is in power even now,” he added.
Waititu said the ICC process should not be politicised by aspirants seeking to gain mileage from the process.
Shebesh said Raila touched on matters that interfere with national healing.
“We have started to heal. The issue of being taken back and forth is destroying the unity of Kenyans,” she added.
Dualle, who had accompanied Ruto at his press conference, claimed Raila had stated his wish to have Ruto and Uhuru jailed in the hope that this would increase his chances of winning the presidency.
“I wonder if he takes stock of what he says. His Director of Communication should jog his memory and remind him of what he has been saying over the ICC trials,” said Dujis MP, Dualle, an ally of Ruto.
Dualle said URP was not concerned by the trials at the ICC, as this would be handled if they win elections.
“As a party we are less concerned with that now, once we win the elections in the first round we would have all the time to deal with the secondary aspect of ICC. For now we are telling the PM, please give us a break!” said Dualle.