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July 18, 2018

Immunising the DP against prosecution is killing democracy

Lang’ata Road
Primary School
pupils protest
on January 19,
2015 against the
fencing off of
their playground
by a hotel
associated with
Deputy President
William Ruto.
Lang’ata Road Primary School pupils protest on January 19, 2015 against the fencing off of their playground by a hotel associated with Deputy President William Ruto. /FILE

A bill is in the making changing the constitution to protect Deputy President Ruto against prosecution for any crime he may commit while he is in the office.

Unless the same constitution is also changed to make Deputy President impeachable like the President and governors, William Ruto will occupy a legal position above President Uhuru who can now be prosecuted through impeachment.

If this bill is passed, it will make Deputy President a dictator who will be above rule of law.

From experience, we know our Presidents Kenyatta and Moi became dictators the moment they put themselves above the law, unaccountable to people or any law and beyond punishment for any crime they committed against their people and country.

We also know President Kibaki did not evolve into a dictator because he did not accumulate powers that made him a dictator.

For those who may not have lived under tyranny, a dictator is not a good ruler. A dictator is a human god with powers of life and death over his people whom he may kill or ruin at will and any time. A dictator also enjoys absolute impunity to destroy his country without any power to restrain or stop him.

Under Kenyatta and Moi, Kenyans suffered dictatorship and knew how bad tyranny was. Under one party dictatorship, presidents roamed the country like rogue elephants destroying everything in their wake. The killed anybody whom they wished to kill. They detained anybody they wished to put out of circulation for whatever time. They took for themselves whoever’s wife they wanted. With unchecked terror, they turned the whole country into one big prison. Whatever crime a dictator committed, no body could arrest, prosecute or take him to jail. When the dictator walked in the streets naked, all cheered him for his beauty. In short, a dictator was the perfect opposite of God to his people.

Not to suffer dictatorship again, when we wrote our new constitution, we gave ourselves powers to impeach or prosecute any president who abused his powers against us. And as further guarantee against dictatorship, we also made Kenya a member of ICC which we believed had powers to punish dictators who terrorized people.

If we use constitution to impeach president to protect ourselves against any dictator and his terrors, why should we give Deputy President immunity against prosecution that we have not given the president and unprotect ourselves against that power by not giving ourselves power to impeach Deputy President?

If we immunize Deputy President against prosecution what logic shall we apply to impeach the president who is below him in the hierarchy of power?

Logically, if deputy president is immunized against prosecution, those behind immunization will also move to erase impeachment of the president from the constitution. Then president and his deputy will be at par against prosecution.

After removal of impeachment of the president by the constitution, either Kenya will persuade ICC not to prosecute the president and his deputy again and for all African presidents and their deputies, or Kenya will withdraw from ICC to protect president and his deputy against international prosecution.

This looks like where we are headed with the push to immunize deputy president against prosecution.

But while immunization against prosecution looks like the obvious route to dictatorship, it does not look like it could enjoy the support of President Uhuru who at the Nakuru prayer rally pledged to go to his home Ichaweri if he loses the election to someone else in the next election. But if President Uhuru can accept to lose elections, why would deputy president not accept prosecution if he were to break the law mistakenly, inadvertently or intentionally as people often say in a fit of anger.

Kenya seems is in serious crossroads.

Most people feel we must chose either to go the way of democracy which will require leaders to subject themselves to scrutiny, rule of law, accountability, transparency and willingness to surrender power if lost in democratic elections. But Kenya can also go the way of dictatorship which will allow leaders to rig elections, refuse to surrender power when lost democratically, embrace corruption, violate human rights, subvert multiparty democracy, reserve justice only for the rich and use negative ethnicity to divide and rule Kenyans. Now is the time to choose.



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