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Uhuru: I will never allow another Kenyan to be tried at the ICC

Deputy president William Ruto (L) share light moment with Ryan Mwendwa and President Kenyatta (R) during the Prayer Rally at Afraha stadium in Nakuru on 16-04-2016 [PHOTO:BONIFACE THUKU/Standard]

No Kenyan will ever face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the 2007-2008 post-election violence, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared.

In what may be seen as a direct confrontation with The Hague-based court, which has issued an arrest warrant against three Kenyans accused of witness interference, President Kenyatta said the country had closed the chapter on PEV.

 “I will not allow any other Kenyan to be tried in a foreign court. As a country, we have closed the ICC chapter,” said the Head of State to rapturous applause from thousands of Kenyans who turned up at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium  yesterday for a thanksgiving ceremony to celebrate the dropping of the last two cases involving Kenyans.

Buoyed by the decision of the ICC judges to terminate all cases against six Kenyans due to lack of evidence, the President said the country’s judicial system would deal with the three Kenyans wanted by ICC over claims of witness tampering.

“Haturudi uko. Ilikwisha na imekwisha (We are not going back. It is over),”  said the President, whose own case was terminated by ICC judges after prosecutors  had listed him as among those  who bore the greatest responsibility to the violence that left 1,300 people dead and half a million more displaced.

Former journalist Walter Barasa, lawyer Paul Gicheru and Phillip Bett are wanted by the ICC for alleged witness interference in the cases against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang before they cases were terminated on April 5.

Traumatising ordeal

Sang, former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, former Minister Henry Kosgey and former police boss Major-General (rtd) Hussein Ali—who  had also been charged for their alleged role in the violence before the  charges were dropped —  recounted their ordeal during the ICC trial.

Speaking for the first time since they were acquitted by the ICC, Kosgey and Ali said they were traumatised by their ordeal.

“I have not spoken for three years because my brothers were still at the ICC. In the fullness of time, the Ocampo Six have been vindicated. If there was anything that was a lie, it was the ICC,”  said Kosgey.

The former minister veered off the script and announced that  he would support the Jubilee government and stand behind President Kenyatta’s re-election bid in 2017.

Ali, whose case was terminated at the confirmation stage in 2014, said he was vindicated when the truth finally emerged.

“All that was said were lies. Even if you dress a lie from morning till evening, it will remain a lie,”  Ali said.

That refrain was repeated by Sang who said it was painful  to sit in court and listen to the lies of the 30 witnesses lined up by the prosecution.

“I want Kenyans to know that I was never involved in the violence and neither were the other five,” Sang said.

On his part, Muthaura said Kenya had managed to pull through despite the violence.

“Kenyans  recovered  from the PEV and quickly formed a Grand Calition government and came up a new Constitution,”  he said, and added  that those were had been displaced by the fighting  would receive help.

“I know the government has no intention of leaving anyone unattended,” Muthaura  said.

Some of the indictees were charged with crimes against humanity, rape and the forcible transfer of persons.

Yesterday, messages of peace and reconciliation reverberated across the packed Afraha Stadium-annex, as the President and his deputy led the  celebrations.

In his message, President Kenyatta invited the Opposition to rally behind him in uniting Kenyans as the country prepares for the 2017 General Election, vowing to act firmly against hatemongers and  those who incite members of their ethnic groups to violence.

“Today I stretch a hand of peace to my brothers in the Opposition and ask them to join me in uniting Kenyans. Let us open a new chapter by selling our policies in a peaceful way and accept the decision of the people at the ballot,” he said.

Addressing the colourful occasion at the packed stadium that was in stark contrast to scenes at the same venue when it was home to 28,000 families displaced by the violence, Uhuru said Jubilee was determined to turn a new chapter in the country’s politics by embracing peace and unity.

He warned that his government would take stern action against politicians who incites ethnic animosity and those who threaten national stability.

“I will not care about your status in any political grouping – the law will take its full force if you are found inciting Kenyans,” he said.

“We have duty to protect Kenyans from those who have not learned a lesson from the past. We are going to strengthen our judicial and investigatory institutions to detect any such activities,” the President said.

Better days

Uhuru said those who lose in elections must accept defeat.

“If the people will reject me at the ballot, I am ready to leave and go home to Ichaweri village in Gatundu,”  he said and urged others who lose to patiently wait for the next elections to compete again.

The Head of State said the government would ensure that those affected by the violence are resettled and compensated.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ruto called for unity.

“There are many people who want us to be prisoners and hostages of what happened in 2007 and our past. I want to persuade every Kenyan that the better days of our country are in the future, not in the past,” Ruto stated.

The DP said the government would unite the country and urged Kenyans to build bridges of peace.

The prayer rally was attended by 13 Opposition legislators and Luo Council of Elders chairman Mzee Nyandiko Ongadi.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta were also in attendance in a ceremony in which Cabinet Secretaries Charles Keter and Mwangi Kiunjuri, were joint masters of ceremony.

Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua and 13 other county chiefs  were also in attendance as were lawyers who represented the Ocampo Six at The Hague, led by Karim Khan and Ken Ogeto.

Khan received thunderous applause from the crowd which demanded that he addresses them.

Khan said thanked Kenyans for their support and said the six Kenyans should not have been arraigned in court.

Leaders of Majority Kindiki Kithure and Aden Duale represented members of the Senate and the National Assembly.

Political statements

Duale said no leader should ascend to power through violence and asked Kenyans to unite behind the President and his deputy.

“We have shown the world the ICC cases were all lies concocted to fix a few people. We want to say here that no leader should ascend to power by spilling the blood of innocent Kenyans,” Duale said after he introduced the 13 CORD leaders who attended the ceremony.

They were Kisumu Central’s Kenneth Obura, Karachuonyo’s James Rege, Kwale’s Zianab Chidzuga, Kilifi North’s Gideon Mungaho,  Kilifi’s Mustafa Idd and Sirisia’s John Waluke.

Machakos Town’s Victor Munyaka of the opposition also attended as did  Ford Kenya Chairman and Turkana Senator John Munyes and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka.

Leaders who addressed the rally steered away from making political statements and called on the Opposition to help unite the country.

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