Majority Kenyans want President Uhuru Kenyatta to attend ICC trials, according to Ipsos survey

President Uhuru Kenyatta. (Photo:File/Standard)
By Geoffrey Mosoku

Nairobi, Kenya: An overwhelming majority of Kenyans want President Uhuru Kenyatta to avail himself in person when his case begins at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in February next year.

An opinion poll released Thursday by the Ipsos Synovate group indicates that, a third of Kenyans or 67 percent want the President to travel to ICC and clear his name.

The survey carried out earlier this month, shows 25 percent of Kenyans however prefer the president absconds his date with The Hague based court.

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The report comes out at a time when politicians, especially in the Jubilee coalition, have been exerting pressure on the President not to travel to ICC.

The findings may be an indicator that ordinary wananchi and the political class may be reading from different scripts.

The AU has applied to the UN Security Council requesting deferral of trial against President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto.

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Locally, politicians have threatened to mobilise their supporters to block the JKIA runway to prevent Uhuru from boarding a plane to ICC while Juja MP William Waititu told parliament that he is ready to resign in protest if an elected President is arraigned in court.

“Those who are vocal in urging the President not to go are those close to him who feel they have a responsibility to protect him,” Ipsos research analyst Tom Wolf said while releasing the survey. 

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Wolf however says it’s not necessarily true that the political class has lost touch with the grassroots as appertains to the campaign to have Uhuru skip the trials.

The survey also established that 42 percent of Kenyans want the ongoing cases continue at the ICC as opposed to another 30 percent who feel the cases should be terminated. 13 percent prefer the trial to take place locally.

This is in contrast to the same survey carried in June this year that indicated the ICC support to be at 39 percent while 32 percent wanted a local tribunal as another 29 percent wanted the case to be terminated completely.

Nyanza, Coast and Western lead as the regions where the ICC approval is high while Central, Eastern and Rift Valley marked the lowest support for ICC.

Nyanza supports the ICC process by 75 percent followed by Coast at 63 percent and western at 61 percent while Central has 54 percent, Eastern 44 percent and Rift valley 36 percent of those who want the cases terminated.  56 percent of Nairobi residents and 42 percent of North Eastern too gave their preference for the Hague process to go on.

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40 percent of those who support the ICC say it’s the only way victims of the 2007/08 post election violence can get justice, 24 percent said they don’t trust Kenyan courts while another 23 percent said the ICC is the only sure way of ending impunity.  5 percent says by the cases being conducted at ICC, it will prevent recurrence of future election related violence.

Of those who want the cases terminated, 20 percent believe the evidence so far presented is weak, 19 percent believe the trial will cause violence here while 19 percent want Uhuru and Ruto to be allowed to run the affairs of the country having been democratically elected.

This comes at the time the country eagerly awaits a vote by the UN Security Council which is slated to meet in New York Friday to deliberate on the application by the AU.

Already, reports indicated that the United States, Britain and France have expressed their opposition to the move, and any veto from any of the five permanent member states will spell a death knell for the dream to stop the cases for at least one year.

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