Please Stop the ICC The­atrics

Diplomat East Africa - - Diplospeak -

Why would more than 100 Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment ac­com­pany Kenyan Pres­i­dents Uhuru Keny­atta to The Hague for his sta­tus con­fer­ence at the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court? Surely are our lead­ers can­not be that idle.

The cases against Keny­atta, his Deputy, Mr Wil­liam Ruto, and ra­dio jour­nal­ist, Joshua Sang will be de­ter­mined on the ba­sis of the ev­i­dence be­fore the court, not how Kenyan politi­cians ha­rangue it.

In­deed, at the ear­lier stages of the trial in 2012, images of Kenya politi­cians hov­er­ing around the court singing their na­tional an­them was an em­bar­rass­ment to the con­ti­nent. Courts need to be re­spected and can th­ese lead­ers who can­not re­spect in­ter­na­tional jus­tice, be trusted to obey their own ju­di­cial sys­tems?

In ef­fect, the Dutch city wit­nessed the largest visit of African lead­ers on a pri­vate visit. And if their in­ten­tion is to in­tim­i­date the court, then they bet­ter have another think com­ing.

Keny­atta was charged with the heinous crimes against hu­man­ity in the wake of the Jan­uary 2008 post- elec­tion vi­o­lence that rocked Kenya after the dis­pute pres­i­den­tial elec­tion of De­cem­ber 2007.

It is a fact that the vi­o­lence that largely hit the then Rift Val­ley prov­ince pit­ted Keny­atta’s Kikuyu peo­ple against Ruto’s Kalen­jin com­mu­nity.

The two lead­ers were then on dif­fer­ent sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide; some­how along the line, they dra­mat­i­cally mended fences and won the 2013 elec­tions. But as fate would have it, they are still joined at the hips in the cases be­fore the ICC. To his credit and per­haps, the ICC should take ju­di­cial no­tice, Ruto has ap­peared be­fore the court faith­fuly and ex­cept for the grand­stand­ing by his noisy sup­port­ers ear­lier in the trial, his en­tries and ex­its from the Dutch city have been largely dig­ni­fied.

For Keny­atta, it was the ex­act op­po­site; he spent time, en­ergy and re­sources on a fran­tic diplo­matic shut­tle across the con­ti­nent in a des­per­ate bid to shield him­self from the court. He did man­age to get most African lead­ers to re­pu­di­ate the court, but to his dis­may, not a sin­gle coun­try has quit the Rome Statute that binds the con­ti­nent to the ICC.

Wouldn’t be more dig­ni­fied if Keny­atta went to the court qui­etly and in a so­bre dig­ni­fied man­ner, dis­cussed the sta­tus of his case with­out the cha­rade that di­min­ishes his rep­u­ta­tion and makes him ap­pear keen to es­cape jus­tice?

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