A pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced that only four of the six Kenyans suspected of involvement in the violence which followed the 2007 elecitons will be charged with crimes against humanity.
The four suspects to be charged are: Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of the Public Service Francis Kirimi Muthaura, former Agriculture Minister William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The two suspects that have not been charged (on the basis of insufficient evidence) are: former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali.
On the surface it might not look like this verdict will prove to be that controversial in Kenya – after all, during the last election Ali was a key ally of the Kibaki government while Kosgey was a member of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) opposition seen to be close to Raila Odinga. Moreover, of the four to be prosecuted two (Kenyatta and Muthaura) are alleged to have organized ‘anti-opposition’ violence among the Kikuyu community while two (Ruto and Sang) are alleged to have organized ‘anti-government’ violence among the Kalenjin community.
But since the last election political alliances have shifted. Odinga and Ruto have fallen out amidst rumours that Ruto and Kenyatta – once fierce enemies – have formed a mutual insurance pact with the tacit support of President Kibaki. Although it seems unlikely that this ‘KKK’ alliance (so named because it brings together leaders of the Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Kamba communities) will unite behind a common presidential candidate, it is clear that Ruto’s faction of the ODM has rejected Odinga’s leadership.
Read in this light, the verdict seems far more likely to cause controversy because the decision not to prosecute Kosgey means that no charges have been pressed against any figure close to Odinga. By contrast, four key figures associated with the KKK alliance will stand trial. This is likely to simultaneously harden Odinga’s support for the process and President Kibaki’s opposition. Meanwhile the failure to charge Ali will disappoint many within Kenyan civil society as the Waki Report on the post-election violence implies that a significant number of deaths were the result not of civilian pangas but police bullets.
For a PDF of the Court’s public statement click here.
For updates on the ICC cases check out http://www.icckenya.org/