Here in Kenya we are awaiting, with great anticipation, for the ICC ruling on whether charges will be confirmed against those 6 prominent figures deemed most responsible for masterminding post election violence in Dec 2007/Jan 2008, which left over 1,300 Kenyans dead and more than 300,000 people displaced from their homes (many are still living in temporary accommodation as Internally Displace Persons/IDPs today). I'm not sure why the overseas newspapers are making so little of this - it surely is the most momentous day for Kenya in decades - certainly since independence. The outcome could not just the political map but decades of impunity - everything.
Charges against the 6 (above) include being criminally responsible for; murder, forcible transfer of population, rape, persecution and crimes against humanity. These strong words come as a shock to read because over the past four years it has been easy to forget about the horrors that went on in those dark months after the last election; for years now it's all been buried under a shroud of politics - smoke and mirrors. We tend to forget about the victims. They are not able to shout loud enough.
It is a fairly drawn case. 3 of the group represent supporters of President Kibaki and 3 for Raila Odinga who contested the result of the last election. Who are they? Click here for previous post
The public will learn of the Hague decision at 1.30pm on Monday (the accused will hear the outcome one hour before the public via email).
There are concerns that there will be some sort of adverse reaction by the public on release of the ICC verdict - whether by supporters of the suspects, or opposers - depending on the outcome - street protests etc. The British foreign office have sent their usual warning to avoid public gatherings/demonstrations etc. However, I suspect that all will be peaceful - whatever the outcome, there is bound to be a sense of relief. And afterall, who will want to organise a politically charged demonstration when those on the stand are accused of manipulating the emotions of the masses to serve their own political ends? In fact, how strong is the public support for these 6? How much do people really care for them? And how organised are the near to silent victims if the suspects are acquitted? Would they really demonstrate?
Meanwhile, it seems that all 6 suspects are confident that they will be exonerated tomorrow. They've been maintaining a high profile today, attending church services (perhaps seeking divine intervention?), and being followed by the press, smiling and dancing in public rallies. Behind those smiles, there must be nerves cracking through.
Two of the suspects, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta, plan to run for president this year (assuming that there will be elections this December - but that's another story) and they maintain that they will not be knocked off course, even if charges are confirmed against them. In fact, they are two of the key presidential aspirants in the race. However, it's complicated. If they do have a court case hanging over them and charges are confirmed, this will undoubtedly change the political outlook for the next government. For more from the local press; The Standard, click here
Ironically, Uhuru (grandson of Kenya's first president) and Ruto, have formed a strong alliance since belonging to totally opposing sides during the last election - how fickle politics is. Uhuru was allied to the current President Kibaki, and Ruto to Raila Odinga. Many question why Kibaki and Odinga were not called into the Hague investigation since they must have known a little of what was going on. Are the 6 scapegoats/fall guys. Ruto and Uhuru plan to be together in a hotel in town, along with fellow MPs, to watch the verdict read out and then hurriedly work out their next step. Legally they are allowed to continue their race for president, even if they do have a court case hanging over their head - but the reality may be that few will be willing to put too much faith in them. Surely their integrity will have been compromised.
Francis Muthaura, Head of Public Service is one of the most powerful members of Kibaki's cabinet today. Hussein Alli, former police chief and current postmaster general - may well have to resign. We are still waiting to hear what the outcome is over the Nancy Baraza case (the deputy Chief Justice who pinched the security guard's nose and threatened her with a gun..?!). The age of impunity is becoming increasingly difficult to uphold.
My question is, (and I had the same question in the Amanda Knox case) - if those 6 are acquitted, therefore not responsible for organsing the violence after the last election - and the public perception here is that the violence very much was organised - then who is? Mr Nobody I suspect.