Why Uhuru and Ruto will face The Hague

They both started out in the same political party. They were both mentored by the same man: Daniel arap Moi, Kenya’s second president. They are regarded as the youthful vanguard of Kenya’s politics and who will chart a new course when the old autocrats leave the scene.

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The two parted ways in the months leading to the 2007 General Election, with one supporting his baptismal godfather. The other supported the arch-enemy of his political godfather.

Now, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and William Samoei Ruto find themselves on the same boat once again. They will soon find themselves facing war crime prosecution at the International Criminal Court in the Dutch city called The Hague.

Uhuru and Ruto will share the dubious distinction of being the first Kenyans subjected to an international judicial process. At The Hague, they will be joining the likes of Charles Taylor, Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic and Jean Pierre Bemba.

Interesting how fate turns out. Uhuru and Ruto are victims of a geriatric political system that seeks to use and dump the youth and thereby frustrate the rise of fresh leaders.

There is no doubt that Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are capable leaders in their own right. Though coming from opposing backgrounds – Uhuru the son of a former president, Ruto comes from a rural family – they seemingly found common ground in Moi’s KANU party.

With Moi’s guidance and bulldozer tactics, the two rose up the ranks of KANU to become presidential contenders within a very short time. In 2002, Moi settled on Uhuru as his successor, much to the chagrin of the KANU old guard. Ruto bought into Moi’s plan and backed Uhuru to the hilt. Had Uhuru beaten Kibaki in the 2002 elections, Ruto would obviously have become a major player in his administration.

Back in 1992, faced with an opposition onslaught in Kenya’s first multiparty elections since the 1960s, Moi made Ruto the deputy leader of Youth for KANU 92. YK 92 was a campaign outfit that had access to unlimited funds and had only one goal: Moi’s victory at any cost. YK 92 corrupted the Kenyan political system in ways that had never before been seen. The opposition was too broke to compete and Moi won the election.

The face of YK 92 was its leader, Cyrus Jirongo, assisted by Ruto. After the polls, public outrage and diplomatic pressure forced Moi to disband YK 92. Of course, Jirongo and Ruto took the flak while Moi pretended to be unaware of what had taken place.

A similar scenario replayed itself in the controversial 2007 polls, only this time, the stakes and the body count was much higher.

What are the charges against Ruto and Uhuru?

William Ruto joined Raila Odinga’s faction of the ODM Party, where he mobilized his Kalenjin ethnic compatriots to vote for Raila. In this, he came into sharp conflict with his political mentor, Daniel arap Moi, who wanted the Kalenjin to vote for President Kibaki.

Thanks to Moi’s machinations in the years 1992 – 2002, the Kalenjin had developed a heightened sense of ethnic nationalism, especially against the Kikuyu ethnic group. With the Kikuyu supporting President Kibaki, it was just a matter of time before an ethnic conflagration erupted. Ruto, apparently, did not sense this and played into the hands of Kalenjin ethnic purists from the old Moi administration.

In December 2007, violence began in the Rift Valley between the Kalenjin and pro-Kibaki ethnic groups, notably the Kikuyu. Though Moi was now supporting Kibaki, the old purist networks he had established among the Kalenjin re-emerged on the side of Ruto and played a leading role in the clashes. A leading light of Kalenjin nationalism is one Jackson Kibor.

In January 2008, Kibor openly told BBC Radio of his involvement in the ethnic cleansing of Kalenjin land. The recording is widely available on the internet and forms part of the key evidence against Ruto.

During his 2007 presidential bid, Raila visited the Rift Valley on numerous occasions and promised to enact ethnic federalism, or Majimbo, if elected. This is the same rallying call that the Moi networks had used when ethnic clashes first erupted in 1992. Raila could not have been that naïve.

After post elections violence in 2008, Raila went back to the Rift Valley and told the Kalenjin that he did not support the return of ethnic groups evicted during the violence. Raila’s ally, James Orengo, specifically said that migrant communities evicted during post election violence should seek land elsewhere, and not among the Kalenjin.

Was Raila aware that he was playing with fire by courting Kalenjin ethnic purists? Of course he was! But he now pleads ignorance, leaving Ruto to become the scapegoat. Ruto has been left holding the short end of the stick. He will face war crime and genocide charges for the deaths of hundreds of Kikuyu, especially in his hometown of Eldoret.

Ruto is currently grappling with a corruption scandal in his Agriculture ministry. He is accused of allocating his close allies government maize, which they sold for a huge profit while millions of Kenyans starve. Among the names that keep coming up is that of … hold your breathe … Jackson Kibor.

The case against Uhuru Kenyatta is not so clear-cut. Uhuru is accused of financing and planning Kikuyu revenge attacks against the Kalenjin, Luhya and Luo tribes.

In late January 2008, after a month of ethnic victimization, the Kikuyu armed themselves and launched retaliatory attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru. It is said that Uhuru held a meeting at State House with leading Kikuyu personalities to plot the attacks. It is, however, not clear whether President Kibaki (himself a Kikuyu) attended the meeting or if he was aware of the plans.

Unlike Ruto’s case, there are very few witnesses to testify on Uhuru’s involvement in ethnic clashes. If established that Uhuru is guilty, he can plead self defence and provocation. By the end of January, state authority had collapsed in Kenya and the Kikuyu were being attacked from all directions. It was under those circumstances that Kikuyu leaders decided to take matters into their own hands.

The revenge attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru drew the attention of the international community of impending civil war in Kenya. Within days, intervention by regional and world leaders brought to an end most of the violence. The coalition agreement between Kibaki and Raila was signed a month later.

Like Ruto, Uhuru is both a beneficiary and victim of Moi’s political tricks. In 2002, Moi was due for retirement and was determined to prevent KANU leaders including Raila and George Saitoti from assuming the presidency. Moi had spent 5 years wooing Raila into the party with the promise of handing power to him but, in reality, had no intention of doing so.

As it turned out, Moi’s Vice President in the 1980s happened to be opposition leader in 2002. Moi felt he could be comfortable as a retired president with Mwai Kibaki at the helm. What better way of doing this than by destroying KANU’s chances of winning? And what better way of ensuring KANU’s loss than by introducing an unknown, untested candidate with no prospects of winning? This is how Project Uhuru came to be.

Kenya’s youthful leaders cannot take over the mantle of leadership if they continue playing to the tune of the old guards. It is obvious that the likes of Moi, Kibaki and the Odingas have a monopoly over power that they do not wish to relinquish. They will continue to use and dump young politicians in the same old power games of ethnicity and exclusionary politics.

It is time that the young turks rose up and defined their own rules in the power game. Emerging leaders should learn from the experiences of Uhuru and Ruto and never allow themselves to be seduced by money and high office. Of what use is all the wealth in Kenya when you are an international criminal?

As for Uhuru and Ruto, their fates are sealed. To The Hague they must go.

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Freedom of residence guaranteed by international law

In recent years, a dangerous line of thought has emerged in Kenya where free movement of ethnic groups is under threat.

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The post election violence of early 2008 resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being evicted from their homes and farms. Migrant families were told, often violently, that they do not belong and they should return, ‘from where they came from.’

Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) became popular in the Rift Valley and Coast provinces largely by promising Majimbo, a form of ethnic based federalism. Though the concept of federalism may be noble, the term “Majimbo” in Kenyan politics has a very specific meaning regarding the creation of ethnic enclaves.

The word Majimbo was first used in the 1960s because Kenya was a federal state back then but the manner in which the word has been used since the 1990s has often heralded brutal attacks against ethnic groups that settled outside their homelands.

Supporters of Majimbo argue migration takes up jobs, resources and opportunities that could benefit local people. Due to rampant unemployment and attendant economic hardships afflicting Kenya’s growing population, migrant settlers are easy targets for political leaders seeking votes.

Supposing ODM had scored a decisive victory during the 2007 elections? Would they have implemented a Majimbo constitution along ethnic lines?

Well, according to international law, stopping individuals from freely moving and settling across the country is tantamount to crimes against humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says in Article 13 that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.”

During the 2007 electoral campaigns, former Cabinet Minister, Dr Amukoya Anangwe said that if ODM won the polls, industry would be moved from Nairobi to the rural areas. “Only people from that location will be employed in those factories,” said Dr Anangwe.

If such plans are enacted, they would violate Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states thus:

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

The tendency of politicians to blame migrant ethnic groups for economic difficulties has worsened ethnic tension in Kenya and ordinary people are starting to believe these messages. More people are convinced that their living standards will improve if only they can take over what immigrant communities currently own.

Experience and observation shows that ethnic exclusivity does not create wealth. Instead, it breeds worse poverty. The most prosperous parts of Kenya are ethnically mixed and this includes Nairobi and its environs, Mombasa, Trans Nzoia and the Central Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and Eldoret. Clearly, there is a relationship between multi-ethnicity and prosperity.

The United States is racially, ethnically and religiously mixed. Anybody is free to migrate and settle in the United States. The result is a confluence of ideas never before seen in world history.

Did you know that Chinese and Indian migrants play a major role in big software names like Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Silicon Valley? Did you know that the US military absorbs recruits from all over the world?

A climate of acceptance, tolerance and co-operation between races, ethnic groups and religions is the way forward. The rest of the world is embracing these attributes and reaping the benefits. Kenya seems to be moving in the opposite direction and the effects are obvious for all to see.

Giant cabinet fails over Waki Report

Kenya’s giant 42-member cabinet failed this week to discuss a judicial report implicating its members in violence that killed 1,500 people.

A Cabinet meeting called by President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday was widely expected to decide a government position regarding the report. Currently, the coalition parties – Kibaki’s PNU, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and the Vice President’s ODM-K – are split on what to do about Judge Philip Waki’s recommendations.

The Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) was formed as part of the peace agreement between Kibaki and Raila following disputed elections in December 2007. Violence between their supporters resulted in 1,500 dead and close to half a million homeless.

CIPEV has implicated at least six close allies of the President and Prime Minister in the violence, which involved lynchings, hackings, gang rapes and mutilation.

The suspected ethnic warlords in the cabinet have denounced the Waki Report. So strong was the backlash in ODM that a split was imminent after party leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga, supported prosecution for planners of violence. In this, the Prime Minister was seen as pre-occupied with the Naivasha violence where people from his Luo ethnic group were attacked. Apparently, Raila did not realize that in calling for prosecution for Naivasha violence, he would inevitably open the door for ODM supporters elsewhere to face justice over crimes against humanity.

ODM Members of Parliament openly defied their leader as they closed ranks to protect their own. Meanwhile, PNU initially dismissed the report for recommending trials for supporters of President Kibaki. The Waki Report says that a meeting was held at State House to plot the Naivasha attacks but PNU and Kibaki deny such a meeting took place. As PNU puts it, the chaos at Naivasha and Nakuru was retaliation by the Kikuyu for similar violence targetting their kinsfolk in ODM strongholds.

As so many of Kenya’s politicians are implicated in the post election violence, its beginning to appear that a government-led prosecution will be difficult to commence. In effect, the government would be prosecuting itself.

However, the Waki Report has a self-activating mechanism: Should the Kenyan government fail to act by December, the task of prosecuting Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders will automatically fall under the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Already, media reports quote the ICC’s chief prosecutor saying he is ready for the work.

Many of the displaced are yet to return to their former homes as ethnic tension persists in the countryside. Its not only the victims of violence that want justice. There are fears that without punishment for inciters of ethnic cleansing, worse troubles are in store for the country. The next General Election is due in 2012 and presidential campaigns have already began along ethnic lines.

Kenya’s politicians are reportedly having sleepless nights as they await what is described as the “Hague Express.”

Media reprieve for Kenyan politicians

With saturation coverage of Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential election, Kenyan politicians must be breathing easy as attention is focused away from them.

And with unfolding events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the media has moved its focus from the 33 tanks held by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Clearly, General Laurent Nkunda is a much more flamboyant character than the faceless pirates of Somalia.

For sure, the past one week was a godsend for Kenyan personalities whose names feature in the Waki Report. It was no longer necessary to hold press conferences and rallies to defend their names as the media – and Kenyans at large – were simply not interested as Obamania swept the world.

As excitement with Obama’s victory recedes, Kenyans will refocus their attention on their quasi-leaders. The approaching tsunami sparked by the Waki Report is producing aftershocks as civil society and religious leaders call for its full implementation. Diplomats from the United States and Europe have also supported the recommendations of the Waki Report.

Politicians led by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have stated that they will not implement the Waki Report. Why? Because they and their supporters will find themselves in jail for the rest of their lives after answering charges for murder, rape, incitement to violence, arson and genocide. At the very least, Kenya’s rulers fear being shunted out of the mainstream as a new crop of clean leaders emerge to fill the inevitable void carved out by the Waki recommendations.

Waki proposed that the perpetrators of violence that rocked Kenya early this year be brought to face the wheels of justice. According to Waki, violence in Kenya is a consequence of years of impunity where people commit crimes and walk around freely.

The most blatant cases of impunity were those related to ethnic clashes between 1992 and 1997 and whose deaths have never been documented for fear of antagonizing perpetrators, most of whom were in powerful government posts.

Out of political sensitivity, Waki declined to name the principle suspects in the violence. He handed a secret list of ten names to former United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan. It is this secret list that has gotten Kenyan politicians breaking into a cold sweat.

Politicians who just a few months ago were urging Western nations to intervene in Kenya’s politics are now playing the sovereignty card. President Mwai Kibaki, who supported prosecution has changed his mind after his ethnic and business partners were linked to the chaos. People who, in January, dismissed the Kenyan judiciary as incapable of delivering justice now say that there is no need for an international tribunal because our courts are competent enough.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has made several flip-flops of his own. Initially, he was opposed to prosecution but after the Waki Report was released, Raila supported trials for perpetrators of violence. In his statements, Raila recalled the Naivasha attacks where members of his Luo tribe were attacked by the Kikuyu ethnic group, which supported Kibaki. However, Raila eventually realized that the formation of a political crimes tribunal would affect his own supporters in the Rift Valley province.

Rift Valley MPs, many of whom were implicated in violence, say that they were responding to Raila’s urging for country wide protests and that Raila should also face prosecution as ODM leader.

The drama gets more intriguing because the terms governing the Waki Report state that if the Kenyan government fails to conduct trials, the matter will automatically move to the International Court at the Hague. Kenyan politicians will have no say over the international court’s proceedings unlike those of local courts.

Judge Philip Waki led a Commission of Inquiry to investigate violence that followed disputed elections in December 2007. Supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his ODM party clashed with security forces and ethnic groups loyal to President Mwai Kibaki. Over 1,000 people died in the clashes. Half a million were evicted from their homes by gangs linked to politicians.

Reformers in Kenya believe that implementing the Waki Report is the best way of peacefully getting rid of a political class that has run the country into the ground. The alternative would be bloody revolt by a citizenry pushed to the limits.

Giant cabinet in panic over ethnic clashes

Kenya’s giant cabinet is paralyzed in panic as a judicial report on ethnic clashes implicates key allies of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Judge Waki declined to name the politicians in his report but the suspects are widely known, both within the republic and in the diaspora.

Last week’s release of the report on post election violence by Justice Philip Waki has created panic among Kenya’s political elite, long accustomed to exploiting ethnic differences to maintain a tenacious hold on political and economic resources in the country.

Top politicians in Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM party were found to have incited ethnic hatred mostly against President Kibaki’s supporters from the Kikuyu, Kisii, Meru and Kamba tribes. Though ODM says the violence after the December polls were a spontaneous reaction to a rigged process, the Waki Commission discovered that politicians actually paid criminal gangs to kill, rape and loot.

There was a graduated scale of payment for killing a man, woman, pregnant woman, boy and girl child. There was also a reward scale for destroying property – mud houses attracted the least pay. At the Kenya coast, a well-known politician payed youths Kshs300 (US$4) per day to wreck havoc on highways, shops and bars.

On President Kibaki’s side, it is established that top Kikuyu politicians and businesspeople met to plot revenge attacks against the Kalenjin, Luo and Luhya. By late January 2008, the politicians apparently felt that the government was not acting to stop ethnic clashes. The Mungiki group was contacted and its youths used to attack and kill people from pro-ODM tribes in the towns of Naivasha and Nakuru.

Judge Waki declined to name the politicians in his report but the possible list of suspects is widely known among the Kenyan public, both in the republic and in the diaspora. Topping the list is Agriculture Minister William Ruto, a key ally of the Prime Minister. Others include Henry Kosgey, William ole Ntimama and Najib Balala.

On President Kibaki’s side are such personalities as Uhuru Kenyatta, Njenga Karume and Jayne Kihara.

Not surprisingly, neither Kibaki nor Raila want to lose their key supporters. With ethnic politics still very intense, any move against the guilty individuals is likely to stoke resentment from their respective tribes. Inspite of the grievousness of the crimes witnessed early this year, each tribe believes it was fighting a just cause.

Last week, during a peace rally in Nakuru, Kibaki astounded many by calling on the victims of ethnic clashes to “forgive and forget.” Later, while in a Kenyatta Day address broadcast nationally, the president emphasized on forgiveness. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raila Odinga is against the prosecution of ethnic warlords. According to the Standard daily, Raila said: “Leave retribution to the Lord. We do not want to revenge against anybody, we want to build and construct our society.”

What is not in dispute is the fact that politicians incited inter ethnic animosity during last year’s presidential and parliamentary campaigns. Rather than campaign on pertinent issues touching on development, infrastructure, healthcare and jobs, politicians played the ethnic card to whip up emotions among the voting public.

The Luo and Kalenjin were told that they were poor because President Mwai Kibaki is a Kikuyu. The Luhya ethnic group was urged to support ODM because one of their sons – Musalia Mudavadi – would be made Vice President.

President Kibaki’s supporters warned the Kikuyu never to vote for Raila because his Luo tribe does not practice circumcision. The Kikuyu were repeatedly told that, should ODM form the government, all their land and property would be taken over by Luo, Kalenjin and Mijikenda without compensation.

ODM made rigging claims against Kibaki but was unable to prove the allegations before the Waki Inquiry. As a result of the claims several dozen police officers were lynched by ODM supporters during the election, setting the stage for a near-collapse of state authority in consequent violence.

Ethnic incitement raised the stakes in the election so high that violence was going to erupt regardless of who the actual winner was.

As Kenya’s people struggle to rebuild their lives, the hope for justice is what keeps the hundreds of thousands of victims going. They quietly pray for the day when they shall face the people that killed their loved ones, raped and burnt homes.

To the vast majority of Kenyans, calls by the country’s leadership for leniency are a sordid indictment of the state of their country’s politics. Short of divine intervention, there’s very little that Kenya’s struggling citizens can do about it.

Gang rape as a political weapon – Waki Report

One of the well known and regrettable tragedies of major conflicts and breakdowns of law and order is sexual violence. This has happened around the world.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Sadly enough, it also was a consequence of the 2007 post election violence in Kenya. Below, the Nairobi Chronicle presents accounts by victims of sexual violence as contained in the Waki Report. Please be warned that the stories you are about to read may contain graphic and disturbing description.

Raped as husband is killed – Waki Report

Kisumu woman raped, husband killed and home burnt

Waki Report: Luo men forcibly circumcised

We have strived to bring stories from different parts of Kenya in order to demonstrate that all Kenyans suffered at the hands of a cruel, corrupt political elite that cares nothing for the welfare of its own people. The question is: for how long shall Kenyans put up with this?

Waki Report: Luo men forcibly circumcised

Dr Kariuki Gichuki, the current Medical Officer  of Health for Nakuru confirmed having received six cases of forced circumcision which he described as ‘traumatic circumcision.’

“… Usually circumcision, either you are in the hospital or in a traditional setting that is clean. The procedure is a boundary kind of surgical procedure but this one was a bit crude and not orderly.”

The doctor further referred to the cases as ones of ‘pilary amputation’ and explained that ‘usually, circumcision is the surgical removal of foreskin but in [a particular case] the 22 year old male had his whole penis actually cut’.

A married Luo woman with two children, originally from Huruma estate in Nairobi but displaced to an IDP camp testified in camera as follows:

“I heard many people outside saying that “even here there are some ODM people we want to circumcise”.They were many and were making a lot of noise. They pushed the door saying that ‘Kihii (Kikuyu for uncircumcised man) you are the ones troubling us! I saw my husband lying down. They opened his zip, lifted his penis and cut it with a panga. I managed to slip away and one alerted them and they said I should go away and that it is my husband they wanted to teach a lesson and circumcise.”

As a result of this attack her husband died due to the injuries sustained during this hideous incident.

In explaining the extent to which some victims suffered in the hands of such gangs, a woman, whose testimony has been referred to previously in camera said:

“I found that my brother’s penis had been cut and placed on his mouth, his testis were chopped off and placed on his hand. I found that blood was still pouring out of his body and he was kicking as he was dying. The following day, another workmate of mine informed me that my brother’s head had been chopped off and that dogs were eating his private parts. My brother was clobbered before he was mutilated. The people who did that to him were using spiked clubs. They had fixed nails on the club and as they hit his face, the nails would pluck flesh from his body”.