Revealed: Kofi Annan planned to block Uhuru from presidency

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan actively sought to block the UhuRuto ticket in the 2013 elections.

In a briefing with the French Foreign ministry officials on the situation in Kenya prior to the March 2013 elections, Annan -- who brokered the peace deal following the 2007/8 elections -- urged the French ministry to pass the message that “some of the individuals who are indicted will be arrested and transferred to The Hague.”

The leaks are part of documents obtained by Mediapart, a French news group and analysed by the EIC, the European Investigative Collaborations, in collaboration with the Africa Network for Centres of Investigative Reporting.

Annan was pessimistic that the ICC charges would not deter the Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto juggernaut in its tracks. Instead, he hoped that a case filed in the High Court to challenge their bid would be upheld.

Elisabeth Barbier, a director of Africa at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to Annan’s concerns saying: “I can say that it is exactly the message which has been conveyed to the Kenyans by France and the European Union in general.”

More violence

Barbier had been the French ambassador to Kenya at the time of post-election violence until 2010 when she went to Paris on a promotion. She returned to Kenya in her new capacity as the director of Africa between June 19 and June 22, 2012 and met with various government ministers including the then Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa.

Her successor as ambassador Etienne de Poncins thought of Annan’s concerns as “too pessimistic.” His view was that the fear of ICC was not enough to ward off possible violence which he thought would be on a lesser scale.

He advocated for raising consciousness of a middle class who craved after stability.

In his discussions with the French, Annan proposed organising a meeting of diplomats in Geneva to be held in January 23 to discuss the possible scenarios in case the Kenyan courts did not stop UhuRuto from taking part in the poll. It is not clear whether the Geneva briefing took place.

On February 15, 2013 the High Court dismissed the integrity challenge lodged against Kenyatta, in effect allowing him and Ruto to contest in the elections. Annan’s regular visits to Kenya to monitor the progress of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation came to an abrupt end.

When much later in the year, Kenyatta rallied the African Union into resolving to seek deferral of the Kenyan cases, Annan - together with retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu - opposed the move. Ocampo fired a congratulatory email.

“Congratulations for your remarks on AU withdrawal. You and Desmond Tutu are heroes. You are the only voices but I see you are prevailing.”

He then proceeded to propose the “honorable exit for Kenyatta” which has since been reported on. In the email, Ocampo also suggested that Annan visits Fatou Bensouda, the deputy prosecutor, the President and the judges involved in the case in “individual meetings”.

In this email, Ocampo also informs Annan that Bensouda “has good relations with Amina (Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed)".

In the emails, Ocampo also appears to have bounced off his invitation to an American TV station to Annan: “CNN Christine Amanpour’s producer contacting me asking how to discuss the AU issue. I suggested your name. Do you have interest?”

Evidence evaluation

The leaks are silent as to whether Ocampo eventually met President Kenyatta’s brother Muhoho as suggested by Kenya’s ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau: “In contact with the brother and he is ready to come to New York any time to meet with you and anyone else you might recommend. Please advise when he should come. Of course the sooner the better.”

However, it is clear from his muddled response that he was not keen: “I am leaving on Tuesday morning”, says Ocampo, “but in any case, I don’t think I should be involved in the meetings. It could affect the prosecutor’s image. This is her call, she has to decide. You can help to harmonise positions in a proper way”.

His advice to Kamau was for Kenyatta to request the Office of the Prosecutor to conduct a new internal evaluation of the evidence before she goes to trial and if found weak to terminate it altogether.

“She did it in the case of Muthaura”, Ocampo said, and added: “The judges have nothing to say.”

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