Special Report: As ICC names suspect Kenyan leaders, records reveal talk of more ethnic cleansing
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected Wednesday to accuse up to six Kenyan leaders of orchestrating the ethnic violence that killed some 1,200 people after Kenya's Dec. 27, 2007 elections.
When Luis Moreno Ocampo – the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands – names six top Kenyans Wednesday accused of orchestrating mass violence in late 2007 and early 2008, Kenyan security forces around the country will be prepared for the worst.Skip to next paragraph
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They have good reason. Supporters of at least one senior Kenyan, William Ruto, who was minister of both agriculture and higher education, have vowed to make their Rift Valley region “ungovernable” and to unleash a wave of mass violence modeled after the Rwandan genocide. Their motive: to punish their enemies, especially those who have testified against Mr. Ruto, and to prevent Ruto’s possible arrest and extradition to The Hague.
Calling themselves the “Friends of Hon. William Ruto,” a group of 20 prominent Kenyans, including famous marathon runners, prominent businessmen, ex-military officers, and local elected officials, has spent significant portions of the past year obstructing the ICC's investigation, intimidating witnesses, and planning a Rwanda-style ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley. The aim: to prevent the possible extradition and arrest of their ethnic group’s top politician for his alleged role in promoting the 2007-08 post-election violence, according to minutes of the group's meetings and other evidence obtained by the Monitor that is also in the hands of Kenya’s National Security and Intelligence Service and the ICC.
Threats, intimidation, and even mob violence have been a common tool for many of Kenya’s top politicians since liberation from British colonial rule. But this time, leaders left the paper trail of the minutes, which offer a window into how far Kenyan leaders and their supporters are willing to go to gain power and to avoid prosecution.
“I have the sense that the Rift Valley will be taken hostage by the supporters of [Ruto], and that they are threatening to kill the Kikuyu community,” says François Grignon, a Kenya specialist and former director of the Nairobi office of the International Crisis Group who says that the ICC process could help prevent further violence if it is handled properly. “It will all depend on how it is done, by public indictment or by sealed indictment. If this is done very fast, there will be [no violence] to organize, and the person who is arrested may find that the best bet is in his legal defense, and by causing more death it could aggravate his situation.”