Defiant Jubilee leaders tell off ICC on Ruto prayers, 'reveal' fixers of Uhuru

Jubilee leaders during prayers at Suswa ground in Narok County for Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang against their ICC case. (PHOTO: BONIFACE THUKU/ STANDARD)
Defiant Jubilee leaders displayed their open contempt for the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a public declaration that essentially told The Hague judges that they cannot be gagged from discussing the Kenyan cases against Deputy President William Ruto.

The ruling coalition’s leaders Sunday continued with the prayer meetings that have irritated ICC judges and in what they described as Suswa Declaration, vowed to resist “any form of dictatorship from any quarter, including the ICC”.

It was a defiant response to the caution on Friday by Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji who said the court was not impressed by the clamour to influence the outcome of the cases following a flurry of prayer meetings that are a platform to deride the ICC.

The Jubilee leaders came up with six points aimed at ICC after Osuji’s directive during a status conference in the trial of Ruto and his co- accused journalist Joshua arap Sang.

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“For avoidance of doubt, we the people of Kenya wish to state that we are a sovereign, democratic and independent nation founded on the principles of the rule of law, respect for human rights and constitutionalism, and that we now do and will resist at all costs, by all means and at all times, any forms of dictatorship from any quarter, including the ICC. Kenya is and shall continue to be a free, open and democratic society and nothing less. We shall continue to speak and continue in prayer,” said a statement dubbed the Suswa Declaration read by Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau during the prayer meeting at Suswa, Narok County.

More than 200 Jubilee leaders, including governors, Members of the National Assembly, senators, women representatives and members of county assemblies were present.

And in an apparent shift of narrative, while in past meetings speakers have only dwelt on how Ruto was fixed, yesterday the leaders spoke about how both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto were allegedly framed to lock them out of the 2013 presidential race.

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Speakers accused powerful and influential political operatives within the Party of National Unity (PNU) and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) for allegedly fixing Uhuru and Ruto at the ICC.

They said immediately the coalition Government of former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was formed, forces scared of competition in future elections seized the opportunity to fix the duo.

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Led by the Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale, the leaders asked Raila and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, who is also a former Justice and Legal Affairs minister, to agree to record statements with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and reveal to the whole world the dealings behind the ICC cases.

Mr Duale said the forces did not want Uhuru and Ruto to take over leadership in the future because of their youthful age and hence were fixed.

Bribed witnesses

“We also want MP Oburu Odinga, Karua and Raila to follow the steps of Moses Kuria by recording statements and set Ruto and Sang free from the bondage that they have been carrying since 2009,” said Duale.

The Gatundu South MP who recorded statements with the ICC investigators recently following his confession that he bribed witnesses to give false evidence to two judicial commissions that investigated the disputed 2007 presidential election and the violent aftermath that is the subject of ICC criminal cases attended the rally but did not address the crowd.

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Duale said that the prayers had started ‘working’ with the likes of the Eldoret-based ICC activist Ken Wafula coming out to confirm that the cases were indeed fake.

Duale said that they have decided to go slow on the motion by Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkong’a to reveal the Waki list so that they could focus on the petition to the ICC Assembly of State Parties and UN security Council whereby 185 signatures have already been signed by MPs from both Jubilee and CORD.

He also said that they want operation of the independent oversight mechanism envisaged in Article 112(4) to immediately inquire into the Kenyan cases, specifically on alleged witness procurement, bribery and coaching.

He lashed out at governors who have not been attending the prayer rallies.

“We are worried that governors from Bomet, Kericho, Nandi and Nakuru have not been attending the prayer rallies. We are putting them on notice,” said Duale.

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Kabete MP Fedinand Waititu alleged that people from Central Kenya not interested with President Kenyatta taking over the country’s leadership after Kibaki colluded with others and framed him together with Ruto in The Hague.

“We have evidence proving that people from Central fixed President Uhuru while those in ODM fixed Ruto so as to stop them from overtaking ‘preferred’ candidates,” said Mr Waititu.

“The ICC cannot bend the law so as to arrive at a conviction. Remember the wisdom that it is better to set a hundred thieves free than to convict one innocent man,” said the host, Narok Governor Samuel Tunai, referring to admission of recanted testimony.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen told off the ICC saying that they will not be intimidated by the judges because they were displaying acts of impunity.

“We are surprised to hear from the ICC judge that we should not conduct prayers. He (Osuji) is supposed to listen to all sides before making a judgement. He seems to be the applicant, prosecutor and the judge at the same time,” said Mr Murkomen.

He said that Kenyan sovereignty and democracy cannot be undermined adding that criticism should always be there, especially when unfairness is evident, and wondered on whose behalf the judge was speaking.

In the six-point declaration by Kamau, the MPs said they were shocked by the unwarranted lecture and attempted intimidation by the ICC chamber, saying the move was orchestrated, prosecuted and determined by the court without an application by any party as would be expected of any judicial process.

“On whose behalf, at whose behest, on whose motion and for what benefit was the court acting in making this bizarre intervention?” they asked.

The legislators accused ICC for allegedly violating basic tenets of international law and its own statute by orchestrating the introduction of rules midway through trial, then goes ahead to enforce them retrospectively.

“Where does the court find the morality and legitimacy to lecture Kenya and and their leaders? For the record, Kenyan parliamentarians from CORD and Jubilee signed the petition and we are not going to relent,” reads the statement.

The MPs told ICC judges that respect was earned by the way one conducts business.

“We want the ICC to understand that respect is earned. When the court violates basic tenets of international law and its own Statute by orchestrating the introduction of rules midway through a trial, then goes ahead to enforce them retrospectively, how do they expect any respect? When the court degenerates into believing statements that have been recanted by the witnesses who authored them before judges in court, the court cannot and should not escape criticism. When the court frustrates the establishment and operationalisation of an independent oversight mechanism as provided by Article 112(4) of the Rome Statute to ensure accountability of all its organs, and instead opts to operate opaquely and with impunity, then where does the court find the morality and legitimacy to lecture Kenyans and their leaders?” questioned the legislators.

Governor Samuel Tunai warned that the ICC has turned out to be a threat to the country’s security.

He said recent confessions have exposed the inconsistencies in the two cases and urged the court to immediately drop the cases for the sake of the country’s sake.

“We are appalled by this court that wants to prefect Kenyan leaders. We urge the ICC not to go against the fundamental principle in the Kenyan constitution that allows Kenyans to congregate,” said Mr Tunai.

Senate Majority Leader Prof Kindiki Kithure said Kenyans will never be intimidated, silenced or gagged by the ICC in regard to the ongoing prayers.

Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita asked the Opposition not to start fresh prayer rallies in support of Ruto and Sang but instead join them, saying parallel rallies risk dividing Kenyans along tribal and political lines. The Suswa prayers were led by the Rev Alex Taiya.

—Reports by Vincent Mabatuk, Robert Kiplagat and Charles Ngeno

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William RutoInternational Criminal CourtChile Eboe-Osuji