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January 20, 2019

Uhuru, Ruto Must Accept ICC Verdicts Even If Unfavourable

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

Now that the Kenyan ICC cases have kicked off in earnest and first witness number 536 has already given evidence, Uhuru, Ruto and Sang should make public commitments to accept and abide by the court's verdicts when they are made.

Given everything we are seeing and hearing especially from Jubilee MPs and Senators, this fear is not baseless. Already supporters of both Uhuru and Ruto who are advocating Kenya’s withdrawal from ICC are critical of her decisions, have subjected her to political attacks, are campaigning against her in Africa, are pressuring witnesses not to give evidence and have pleaded with Uhuru and Ruto not to go to ICC for trial.

People who are sabotaging the trials will most likely persuade Uhuru and Ruto not to accept the ICC verdicts if they are negative. If Uhuru, Ruto and Sang choose not to accept ICC verdict, their decision will have dire consequences on the country that could include economic sanctions and top leaders becoming fugitives like Omar al-Bashir of Sudan that cannot go to UN and must perpetually run and hide.

I cannot believe that incapacitated leaders are what Kenyan people desire, unless they have become totally blind to their interests. Because justice was revered in pre-colonial Africa and other societies, leaders were the first to respect and live by it.

Indeed, justice was so respected that when somebody in the family was caught stealing, the first to set fire to the bee hive in which one was rolled down a hill was a parent or member of the same family. How come today leaders have no respect for justice? Criminals have become leaders whom no African should be proud of.

In our country where dictatorship is not dead yet, Uhuru and Ruto have themselves asked that, to ensure fairness, leaders in do or die contests must be forced to commit themselves to honouring the outcome of such contests.

During the March 4, 2013 presidential election, candidates and whole country demanded that all candidates make a commitment that whichever way the election went, all candidates would respect voters’ verdict.

During Raila Odinga’s presidential petition against the electoral victory of Uhuru Kenyatta, both Uhuru and Raila the petitioner publicly promised to respect the outcome of the court’s decision whoever it favoured.

Six popular chants among the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin reinforce my plea for a public commitment by Uhuru and Ruto to accept ICC verdicts in their cases.

First, we want no trials. Instead of MPs chanting in The Hague, “we want fair trials’, they are chanting, “We want no trials.” Yet living in a society without trials, is living in a lawless society. Right now, because many leaders are criminals, they are also enemies of the rule of law and champions of anarchy.

Second, we want no courts. Logically, people who loathe trials also hate courts. This is why Kenyan MPs started by rejecting local courts to prosecute perpetrators of post-election violence, took themselves to the International Criminal Court and now want their cases returned to local courts that everybody knows can never try the president and deputy president for any crime whatsoever. The logic of outside, local, outside and local courts again is one: no courts and no trials at all.

Third, we want no truth. When people want no trials and no courts, they end up wanting no truth. Hatred for truth explains why our leaders have been manipulating people who want to be witnesses at the ICC trials not to testify.

Hatred for truth has also become hatred for self-interest. We have even seen IDPs who were victims of post-election violence refuse to testify at ICC in pursuit of justice and compensation misled by falsehood that their interests and those of their leaders are the same.

Fourth, we worship false gods of money and negative ethnicity. When supporters of Uhuru and Ruto embrace false Christianity, they believe they can cheat God, care nothing about truth, despise justice, kneel before leaders, think of people as trash and believe God is one of our ethnic elders.

Fifth, we want no justice that can convict our leaders. While justice can mean release or conviction, to some communities, justice must set leaders free.

Without release there will be neither justice nor peace. If there is conviction, it will be injustice and war. To leaders there is only one acceptable judgment – release.

Sixth, a court verdict can never upset an electoral verdict. This means any judgment that could remove Uhuru and Ruto from power will be illegitimate and unacceptable. Before some said if Uhuru and Ruto won, their case could be over.

Yet no just law of man or law of God can shield leaders from justice. If ICC finds our leaders guilty, they must comply and the country should adjust accordingly.

Lastly, to capture and keep power, we kill memory and justice. Better than “forgive and don’t forget” we “forgive, forget and move on.” For the pain of injustice, we anaesthetise victims with amnesia. So far, it is unthinkable that Uhuru and Ruto can lose power. It seems easier to reject ICC judgment, unless favourable.

But Uhuru and Ruto should hope for the best and prepare themselves and the country for the worst. Anything less is suicide. Should Uhuru, Ruto and Sang lose this case, unlike Samson, they must not destroy the Temple – Kenya.

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