The ICC verdict – a potential game changer in Kenyan politics

The ruling by the International Criminal Court yesterday, to confirm charges brought by the Chief Prosecutors office against four of the initially six Kenyans, has rocked the establishment in Kenya, as word emerged that the four will not go down without a fight in court and take their principals with them if necessary.
The ICC, is what has widely been seen as a selective process, had opted to only lay charges against six, with only four of them having to stand trial now, altering the political landscapes in Nairobi. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, both declared aspirants for the Presidency of Kenya in the forthcoming elections, the Head of Civil Service in Kenya Francis Muthaura and a radio presenter Joshua Sang learned yesterday at 13.30 hrs local time that the ICC had confirmed charges against them with a majority verdict of 2 : 1 while setting free the then head of police Gen. Mohamed Ali and Henry Kosgei, saying there was insufficient evidence to link those two to any crimes.
Ruto and Kenyatta have already said they would appeal the decision, undoubtedly emboldened by the dissenting opinion of one of the judges, and have also indicated that they would continue their campaign to become a candidate for the Presidency. Their political opponents have already however started stirring the mud, egging their supporters on to demand they should stand down while their cases are ongoing, while the supporters of both equally vocally claim the principle of innocent until proven guilty in court, besides throwing mud back by claiming the main opponent in the forthcoming presidential elections, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, escaped charges by the skin of his teeth, courtesy of an alleged deal with the ICC Chief Prosecutor who allegedly let both main protagonists of the 2007 elections off the hook while only dealing with the underlings.
Once the gravity of the decision has sunk in across the political spectrum in Kenya, it will be seen if Kenyatta, Ruto and Muthaura will be suspended from office, pending trial, or remain in their respective positions and how their campaign to become the flagbearer in the next elections will be influenced. Kenyatta had made up substantial ground in opinion polls against Odinga in recent weeks and sparks will be flying with allegations and counter allegations over the true masterminds of the post elections violence in 2008, indicating the potential for a dirty run up to having candidates selected and the subsequent election campaign.
Sources from within the tourism industry were unwilling to comment, saying they needed time to assess the implications of the verdict and the likely impact on Kenyan politics but reiterated earlier comments over their general concern of fixing a date for the presidential and general elections later this year. More reasons to watch this space and see how this potential game changer in Kenyan politics will play out in coming months.