Sunday, January 22, 2012

Six Kenyans Face Indictments Before ICC

Politics and policy
Business Daily Africa

Kenya faces stability test after Hague cases ruling

Business leaders are optimistic of normalcy in the economy amidst anticipated tension when the International Criminal Court makes a ruling today on whether six Kenyans, including Finance minister and presidential hopeful Uhuru Kenyatta, will go to trial over crimes against humanity.

Mr Kenyatta, alongside Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura, and the post-master general and former police commissioner, Mohammed Hussein Ali, are accused of crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible transfer and persecution.

William Ruto, a former Higher Education minister and presidential contender, is accused alongside former Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and Joshua arap Sang, the head of operations at Kalenjin vernacular radio station KASS FM, of crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible transfer and persecution.

The six are suspected of stoking the violence that followed a disputed election in December 2007, in which at least 1,300 people died and thousands were forced from their homes and property destroyed.

There has been massive political uncertainty ahead of the ruling with security being beefed up across parts of the country to guard against any violence by those aggrieved by the decision of the ICC judges. Investors are particularly expected to monitor proceedings when the ICC makes its ruling because political risk has had a major bearing on investment decisions.

Business leaders, however, down-played threats of violence, which could have negative effects on the economy.

“People will certainly talk to express their feelings, but we don’t expect cases of people getting physical to express their feelings,” Patrick Obath, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa), told the Business Daily.

“Kenyans have drawn their lessons from the past and the likelihood of fresh violence is remote because the new laws are also clear on how things need to be done,” he said. The violence that followed the political dispute in 2007 dealt a major blow to the economy.

Together with and external pressures, this plunged the economy to a 1.7 per cent growth rate in 2008 from 7.1 per cent in 2007, which is the slowest since 2002.

Kenya’s economy was particularly badly hit by post-election violence in the first quarter of 2008. Tourists stayed away and many sectors suffered as activity almost ground to a halt.

Mr Obath’s sentiments are broadly shared by analyst Aly Khan Satchu.

“I think it’s all about the reaction to the decision... we might encounter some interference but this will surely be cathartic,” he said.

Scan Group CEO Bharat Thakrar notes that the world is recently showing a lot of interest in Africa and expects Kenyans, including politicians, to show maturity when the ruling is made, so as to maintain this interest.

“We are hoping Kenyans will behave maturely , which will send a positive signal to the whole world,” he said.

Kenya Bankers’ Association CEO Habil Olaka, however, said it was too early to predict what would happen after Monday: “The ruling could go either way so there are several variables to take into consideration. We can only answer that when we have an outcome, but even then what happens may depend on when the trial starts,” he said.

Political and human rights pressure groups also said violence is unlikely to recur, but urged Mr Kenyatta and Mr Muthaura to quit office should their trial be confirmed by the ICC judges.

“We call on the President (Mwai Kibaki) and the Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) to suspend the suspects whose cases are before The Hague based-court should their cases be confirmed,” Ms Atsango Chesoni, a lobbyist with The Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice group said.

“This is according to the provisions of the Constitution under Chapter 6 regarding the integrity of a public servant.

The demand also goes back to the two principals to fulfil the promise they made to Kenyans in 2008: of suspending any public servants suspected to be involved in the violence that rocked the country after the disputed 2007 elections,” she said.

The lobbyists also want both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to drop their presidential ambitions when the country goes for general elections if ICC opts to try the cases.

Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo shared the views and urged them to drop their presidential bids should the ICC move their cases to trial.

“It is just impunity because you can’t take a court of law for granted and we don’t know what the court will say,” said the Justice minister during the launch of the East African Centre for Human Rights at the Hotel Intercontinental, Nairobi last week.

The duo has in the past weeks maintained that the ICC process would not affect their pursuit for the presidency.

Mr Kilonzo, however, said the assertions by the two implied they did not have much regard for the Constitution.

No comments: