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We brought the ICC skunk home, we have to live with its offensive smell

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By GODWIN MURUNGA  (email the author)
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Posted  Friday, February 15  2013 at  19:45

In Summary

  • The two suspects objected attempts to have a local tribunal against all wise counsel
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The one simple fact we often intentionally forget on the International Criminal Court issue is that Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto are at The Hague-based court by choice.

They asked and planned for it. They complained when Kofi Annan delayed to deliver the Waki envelope to Ocampo.

They mobilised support against a special tribunal created and run in Kenya. They did this against all wise counsel. Further, they ridiculed and scoffed at those who preferred a local process and humiliated the President and Prime Minister when they mobilised Parliament to support a local tribunal. They won the day as attempts to establish a local mechanism were defeated.

As if to make their win memorable, they got Mr Isaac Ruto to coin the ‘don’t be vague, let’s go to The Hague’ slogan.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are counting on us to have a short memory regarding their initial support for the ICC. Add to this their new found “hate” for foreigners and you have a pair ready to whip up some retarded Kanu-style nationalist euphoria in support of their regrettable decisions. They don’t even have the courtesy to apologise first.

During the just-concluded presidential debate, Uhuru did not explain how he plans to manage the country from The Hague if elected. But he instructively insisted that if Kenyans “so choose to elect me, it means they have confidence in me to continue doing my job as president while handling the cases”.

What he implied in this response was that he needed some gullible registered voters to validate his poor judgment on the ICC imbroglio. For him, the onus is on Kenyans to understand the implications of their choice.

There are two points to make on the implications of endorsing Uhuru. One, we cannot discount the possibility that the presidency will be an incentive to abdicate from the ICC process, Al-Bashir style.

This option will mortgage the whole country. We have Uhuru’s word that he will not take this option. But it is upon the voters to judge his commitment and honesty.

Second, no one should feign ignorance any more on the domestic consequences of electing someone facing The Hague. A joint report by the Kenya Section of the ICJ, Katiba Institute, and Kenya Human Rights Commission, has documented these consequences in detail. The report is not authored from foreign documentation; it is based on a reading and interpretation of the Constitution and supporting legislation.

It details the every day work expectations of a sitting president and documents those things that are likely to be affected if a suspect required at The Hague is elected president.

Eleven areas that will be affected are cited including disruptions of the exercise of executive authority, the legislative process, Cabinet meetings, leadership of the armed forces, and national security. Indeed, it is possible Uhuru might not be present to attend his own swearing-in ceremony.

Now if you are among those who believe these three organisations are sponsored by imperialists and are, therefore, compromised, stop reading here and vote in ignorance. But those keen to understand the implications of their choice should read the report.

We should also disabuse ourselves of the euphoric campaign against foreign diplomats. Obviously, the US, or EU, has no right telling Kenyans who to elect. But in the same vein, we have no right whatsoever to tell the US or EU who to work with in Kenya.

If this new hate for foreign interference in Kenya’s local affairs was genuine, our political elite with business relations in the so-called interfering countries should lead by example by severing those links. I can guarantee to vote Uhuru Kenyatta if he leads by example on this.

Dr Murunga teaches at Kenyatta University. gmurunga@gmail.com