ICC must handle Kenyan cases with utmost care and fairness

By Geoffrey Lelmett

Kenya: Kenyans await with bated breath as President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang go on trial at The Hague over alleged offenses following the disputed 2007 general election.

As the trials begin, it is necessary to acknowledge that a lot of activities have transpired in Kenya since the Indictment of the Kenyan trio from an initial six.

The circumstances which have changed include the election of Uhuru and Ruto and the subsequent reconciliation efforts which have made Kenyans forgive themselves over the violence. Efforts have also been made to resettle victims of the violence and ensure they return to normal life.

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While it is upon the International Criminal Court (ICC) to try the Kenyan trio, it should also make a careful and considered assessment so as not to harm the tranquil now prevailing in the country.

This, the ICC can undertake by studying the unique trends which have enabled Kenyans surmount even the most difficult of challenges and make unexpected political decisions, forgive each other and move on as a nation.

The International prefects and numerous civil society organizations must help ICC for example, understand the unique circumstances of the last elections where the 1997 protagonists came together to elect the president and his deputy and in effect cement all reconciliation efforts so far undertaken in Kenya. This is an important milestone which cannot be ignored as the court commences the trial sessions.

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Again, Kenyan politicians on a permanent warring mode will always embrace each other once elections near and the International Criminal Court must take that one as a positive attribute too. Former Prime minister Raila Odinga and former Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka never used to see eye to eye during the regime of the coalition government yet now they are best of friends.

It will not surprise anyone that come next elections you may find Raila Odinga, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta under one ticket. All our international friends who feed the ICC with information thus, must clearly look at situations like those and understand Kenya as a land of friends who may appear as enemies.

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Lastly, the move by parliament to initiate withdrawal from ICC must not be blamed on the two politicians; most of the key proponents are their allies and cannot be restricted from the game of politics because after all that is democracy.

What needs to be carefully looked into however is that Kenyans being unique as I have indicated could turn against each other again in the future (God forbid) and so we must carefully weigh the withdrawal issue.

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Uhuru Kenyatta William Ruto International Criminal Court The Hague