By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
Lautenbach, Saarland, Germany
Not many Kenyans are happy to see their President hounded in a foreign court for the worst crimes against humanity. However, the more we think deeper, the more we also reminisce the tragedy of post election violence and therefore, yearn to know exactly what happened, who caused the horror, and why?
Being a member of the Rome Statute in a Continent muddled with political upheavals, impunity and atrocities; which often affect the common citizens, it’s like having medical insurance to cover hospital bills when an illness occurs. Therefore, The ICC is a safeguard for justice and protection to the common citizens.
African leaders wrong on ICC
The recent chorus by African leaders who congregated in Addis Ababa for the AU Summit did a total disservice to their nations and Africa. Many Kenyans wonder where our next door neighbour, and one of the longest serving African presidents, Yoweri Museveni, was when our Country was smouldering as a result of the post election violence.
Pursuing for the deferral or a halt to the ICC cases facing the Kenyan leaders, as shown that President Museveni of Uganda is not fair even to his own people who continue to suffer untold misery as a result of Joseph Kony; an ICC indictee, who is also the leader of the Lords Resistance Army. Besides, the memories of torture meted by the regime of late President Idi Amin in 1970s is still fresh in the memories of many Ugandans and the World.
Secondly, I wonder where the Rwandan President Paul Kagame was during Kenya’s darkest moments during the post election violence; only to emerge from nowhere to support a move which if it succeeds, will put Kenya’s democratic gains and fighting impunity in dire straits.
Mr. Kagame has forgotten the genocide in his country where closer to one million Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutus in 1994. He should be the last person to castigate the work of The ICC.
How soon do we forget Kenyans? Why are we allowing the charges facing Ruto and Uhuru at the ICC to ruin the future of our Country? Are the three accused larger than 40 million Kenyans or they have a superior human genome than the Post Election Victims?
Even our MPs who saw the role played by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to trigger a truce between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki, to pave the way for a coalition government in 2008 are now hurling insults at the global diplomat.
Kenya’s security under Uhuru absence
Many Kenyans don’t buy the view that while President Uhuru Kenyatta, will be attending his trial at the ICC; his absence from the Country may jeopardize our national security especially the war on terror. For me, this is an oblique argument fronted by government sycophants and purveyors of impunity.
By the way, did the President protect us recently when terrorists attacked the Westgate? Was he not comfortably relaxing in State House; enjoying our taxes?
Besides, Kenyans have not forgotten that the Jubilee government and Kenya’s intelligence service were privy of an impending attack but failed to put up contingency measures.
The President will be tried as a regular citizen in the name of Uhuru Kenyatta and its high time he paddled his own canoe instead of dragging millions of Kenyans into his predicament. He contested for higher office knowing very well that he had serious charges in an international court.
President Uhuru doesn’t need to worry much about the security of Kenyans because he is not God. After all, he failed to protect us recently. He is not the police, the defense forces, the navy and the air force.
A cry for Justice
A cry for justice and end to impunity by Kenyans does not imply that Uhuru, Ruto or Sang are guilty of the charges they face at The ICC. In fact, whichever outcome the cases will take, even if it yields to an acquittal, it will be a shy of relief to the post election violence victims.
It dents many Kenyans’ hearts when the nation is imbued with a chorus of protecting two individuals- the president and his deputy from trials when over 1000 people were butchered with almost a million displaced. Uhuru and Ruto have never mentioned anything about the post election violence victims in their usual war drums against the ICC. Not even their supporters especially members of Parliament.
We need to remember that if Uhuru fails to cooperate with the ICC, he will still hang on as our President but the repercussions will be dire to the nation. This is when the real rain will start beating us in all spheres- economically, socially and politically.
Having a President who is a fugitive will be a recipe for dictatorship and perpetuation of impunity. Ask yourself if Omar al-Bashir of Sudan will ever allow free and fair elections in his country; leave alone providing a conducive atmosphere for an effective political opposition?
Kenyans are waiting with bated breath come next month when President Uhuru is supposed to travel to The Hague to for his trial. Justice delayed is justice denied. That is why I personally don’t see the logic for the African Union (AU) to have petitioned the United Nations Security Council for the postponement of the trials for a period of one year.
Why can’t they tell us what Kenya would achieve in one year if the trials are postponed? Secondly, those pressing the ICC to drop the charges altogether and bring the cases to an end haven’t told us what mechanisms they have put in place to compensate or offer reparations to the victims as a way of pacifying the nation!
Where on earth does a court of law yield to the dictates of an accused person? After all, Uhuru and Ruto are judged as individuals; not with their families, community and nation.
For purposes of fairness and justice, The ICC recently provided a detailed memo stating that the President and his deputy are accused as individuals and not based on their current status.
Using non ICC members as scapegoats
Those against the trials of Ruto, Uhuru and Sang have been making pronouncements which lack merit. For instance, isn’t it weird to question why the USA is not a member of the ICC, and that George Bush and Tony Blair committed genocide during the second Gulf War? Are the three Kenyans accused by the USA and Britain or by The ICC; a court which Kenya is a signatory to its founding?
The USA or the European Union has got nothing to do with the displacement and killing of innocent Kenyans during the post election violence in 2007/2008.
The time to put Kenya on a better footing is now where the mighty must face the rule of law. We are tired of hounding chicken thieves to jail and leaving the big guys.
If Kenyan fails this time, then these words by the late Francis Imbuga, in his play Betrayal in the City, will carry greater meaning: “it was better while we waited; we have killed our past and are busy killing our future.” Imbuga provides a glimpse on the characters of African dictatorship and how they have turned the fruits of the independence struggle into a mirage.