By John Katana
The sensational demand by Kericho Senator, Charles Keter, that the Permanent Secretary in Charge of National Interior and Integration and his cohorts resign from government over accusations of coaching witnesses against William Ruto’s case before the ICC is disturbing.
In fact, this matter complicates the relationship between President Kenyatta and his deputy as Keter is a close confidant of William Ruto and has literally been with him for the last two months at The Hague and, therefore, these demands by Keter cannot be looked at the face value only.
With this in mind, several political and legal issues arise from this debate. Before Ruto and his allies quit ODM and formed their own party and finally a coalition with President Uhuru, he passionately justified that the ODM party and its leader fixed him in the ICC.
In addition, when presidential campaigns began, Ruto strongly stated how the ODM party fixed him in the ICC and this actually consolidated the Rift Valley vote for the Jubilee coalition and completely denied CORD any meaningful vote in Ruto’s backyard. The same accusations of how ODM fixed President Uhuru before the ICC equally consolidated Kenyatta’s backyard and isolated Raila Odinga completely.
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With these strong expressions that ODM fixed him before the ICC, raises a fundamental question: Was Ruto and his allies accusing ODM of fixing him before the ICC for political expediency or out of facts? This question is relevant as it will then answer the real reasons Mutea Iringo and other Kenyatta-allied administrators are now being accused of fixing Ruto before the ICC.
From a legal perspective, key issues arise. When Ruto’s Defence team was cross-examining the witness, why did they not elaborate how, if any, Iringo and his cohorts coached witnesses to fix Ruto? This question is critical as when Esaa Faal was cross-examining the witness; he only mentioned the names of these individuals but did not explain how they coached witnesses.
Further, the allegations that Iringo used monies from the witness protection programme to pay these witnesses do not meet legal sense and thus such allegations against Iringo are unfounded and cannot stand on their own legs.
During the time Iringo and Nancy Gitau are accused of using such monies, both were undersecretary in the Ministry of Internal Security and Director of Political Affairs respectively and had no control either direct or indirect of such money under the Witness Protection (Amendment) Act of 2010.
And if these allegations are factual, why did Keter not raise objections about their appointment to government then.
Indeed, even a cursory investigation of tonnes of literature and electronic material would show plainly that both individuals did not in their individual or official capacities have any contact with the Waki team or its investigation into the tragic events of 2008.
From this analysis, there is so far no evidence by the defence team that these individuals participated in fixing Ruto and the likelihood that they are being used as an excuse to test the stability of the nascent Jubilee government is high. These baseless accusations will also test the patience and wisdom of the President as his supporters must be eagerly waiting to see whether he will succumb to demands to sack them.
If he gives in to this pressure, his supporters will largely find this step as that of being weakened and blackmailed by Ruto supporters and it will not go well with them. If he ignores demands to sack them, which he should as there is no cogent evidence that they fixed Ruto, Ruto’s supporters will not be happy with the President.
This discourse will test the resolve of the President to keep Jubilee together as a formidable political force and capable vehicle of governance and also give opportunity to prove that he is not willing to be distracted by sideshows that only serve to contribute negative energy into the mandate Kenyans overwhelmingly gave the party.