ICC treads carefully ahead of ruling Monday on Kenyan violence suspects
The International Criminal Court will announce Monday who among six prominent Kenyans will face trial for crimes of humanity in post-election violence in 2008. Will Kenyans support decision?
On Monday, Kenyans will know whether six prominent Kenyans will face trial for their alleged role in organizing mass violence after the December 2007 elections. At least 1,200 people died and 600,000 people were displaced from their homes between December 2007 and February 2008, after elections that observers say were flawed and possibly rigged.Skip to next paragraph
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There have been momentary shocks of ethnic violence in Kenya’s previous elections, since the country returned to a multiparty parliamentary system in 1998. But the ferocity of the violence in early 2008 took even many Kenyans by surprise. It shut down ports, rail links, and highways, and crippled the economies of the entire region. Landlocked East African neighbors who depended on the Kenyan port of Mombasa found themselves without fuel.
On Monday, all eyes will be on six men – Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, civil service chief Francis Muthaura, police commissioner Hussein Ali, parliamentarians William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, and radio talk-show host Joshua arap Sang – who are accused of crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible transfer, and persecution. Two of these men, Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto, plan to run for the presidency in the March 2013 elections.
How these men behave after the announcement could determine how their supporters behave, and whether Kenya – and its growing economy -- can brave the rough political waters ahead.
The ICC appears to be aware of the possible reaction to its decision, and is attempting to mitigate the risks. The court will inform the accused of its decision first, before reading out the decision in court.
Not just about ethnicity
On the surface, ethnic enmity appears to be the cause of Kenya’s troubles. Powerful politicians, such as the nation’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta and later Daniel arap Moi, tended to use their positions of power to divide economic spoils among kinsmen, a fact that riled those belonging to other ethnic groups.