A prosecution at the International Criminal Court in the Hague of Kenyan political leaders allegedly responsible for the election violence that cost more than 1,000 lives and left 700,000 people displaced in the last presidential election was intended to stop it happening again. Instead it has become the flashpoint that may set off new violence after Monday’s elections.
Two of the leaders indicted by the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, led rival Kikuyu and Kalenjin ethnic groups whose followers’ subsequent clashes caused most of the deaths in 2007 and 2008. Initially as a defensive tactic, these political rivals combined. Now their alliance is snapping at the heels of long-time front runner Raila Odinga, the outgoing prime minister widely thought to have been cheated of the presidency last time round. A campaign based on a powerful emotional appeal by Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto against western interference and the much pilloried Dutch-based court has turned an election that should have been about the extraordinary economic and social challenges Kenya faces into a referendum on the west and its purported preferred candidate, Mr Odinga, for pursuing justice against these two relaunched home town heroes. Continue reading »