Despite earning the dubious title of being the only second president to be elected while facing charges at the International Criminal Court, Uhuru Kenyatta, scion of Kenya’s founding father, appears on the verge of being enthroned as the country’s next head of state after scraping over the 50% threshold-by just 8,100 votes out 12.m cast-in the elections.
However, his main opponent, Raila Odinga, claimed electoral fraud, malpractices and irregularities in the polls, and accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of colluding with Kenyatta’s TNA party, the Sunday Nation reported. Odinga, who won 43.28% of the vote to Kenyatta’s 50.07%, said rather disingenuously as he filed the petition to the supreme court: ‘I am not challenging the election outcome because I am determined to be declared president; but I realised that to do otherwise would be a betrayal of the new constitution and democracy, given the malpractices.’
Before the supreme court can hear the challenge, though, it must first be established whether the chief justice, Willy Mutunga, should preside over the bench, having reportedly expressed support for Odinga.
Beyond this legal hurdle, however, looms another court appointment, as the chief prosecutor of the ICC insisted that charges of crimes against humanity against Kenyatta would not be dropped. ‘It’s not a question of if it goes to trial but when it goes to trial,’ prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told Reuters in Paris.
However, Kenyatta’s lawyers said charges against him were based on hearsay after the ICC case against former civil servant Francis Muthaura collapsed when a witness retracted testimony.
According to the Economist, Jendayi Frazer, former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, ‘summed up what many observers were thinking when she said that the “case against him is close to collapse”‘.
These grave charges need to be answered but nobody’s interests are served by rushing to get the new president into court as the uneasy peace surrounding the elections continues to hold. To their credit, the two main leaders have repeatedly appealed for calm throughout this potentially disastrous interregnum, mindful of how up to 1,500 people were killed in largely ethnically based violence after the last elections in 2007. But for how long can they contain their supporters’ frustrations?
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has indicted 94 people. There must be a mob of more junior politicians and security officials in Kenya whose record needs to be examined. Let’s start with them.