Uhuru presence at ICC could ridicule the court


Politicians need to tamper their vigilante reaction against ICC summons that President Uhuru Kenyatta attends court in October with a veneer of reasoned doubt. In their agitated opposition, they may be sending the wrong messages on summons laced with traps.

It is virtuous to appear to protect the President but another reading altogether is to ignore the big picture. Granted, since becoming the Head of State, Uhuru has not stepped at The Hague court.

If he attends in October, it will be a first for a sovereign Head of State to do so. It may be quite attractive to play august at that shameful and humiliating prospect. Yet in the fullness of time, this could be an act of magnanimity from a sovereign that shamed ICC.

Of note is that Uhuru has been to ICC before and despite initial hubris, nothing earth-shaking came out of it. He also has the option of a video link. Then there is the fact that the President is not going to stand trial. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is on a fishing expedition, withered as she hangs on straws to make a case.

In fact, his being at The Hague is counter-productive to the prosecution and the court for lacking the nerve to call off a case that has fatally stalled. His presence will ridicule ICC’s determination to conduct a trial at whatever cost out of fear of losing relevance.

After flailing at evidence gathering, Bensouda has put on a political gown and made a formidable claim targeting Uhuru as President. Her sights are set on a court declaration that Uhruru, as President, has interfered with production of evidence and hence obstructed justice contrary to the Rome Statute.

She is baiting the President for a no-show. With that, the crimes against humanity case will take backstage as new charges and trial on obstruction begin. That the court agreed with her shows just how slithery it has plotted to redeem itself. It is evident that the court is in no mood to loose both the Uhuru and Ruto cases.

Uhuru’s is a non-starter for lack of witnesses. Ruto’s has so far hit the rocks with recanting and hostile witnesses. To shore up its presence, one of the cases must see the light of day. Given the loose nature of evidence required to convict, the ICC could choose to sacrifice Ruto and let the President free.

It could conversely declare mistrial in both cases and hold onto the obstruction case for posterity. It does require our provocation to see the plot through. Uhuru not appearing will only embolden ICC to issue a warrant of arrest against him.

This will precipitate wider ramifications and Uhuru will be declared an international fugitive. Whatever little embarrassments we are scared of about his being at ICC will translate into Kenya becoming an international pariah with attendant sanctions.

Having tasted and tested the international scene on this matter, knowing the delicate economic state of the nation, having secured a delicate balance in diplomacy of West versus East, and relations with the West thawing, I doubt the President will accommodate local political braggadocio.

Yes, the AU resolution is that sitting “African” presidents not attend trial while in office. But how does the resolution sit with international conventions we are party to?

How come Parliament is yet to domesticate the resolution as required by the Constitution? The answer cannot be we already have such statute in our laws. The answer is that the agitation is just that, hot air. kibisu.kabatesi@gmail.com


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