Kenyans are celebrating the prevailing peace in the land after a highly anticipated General Election. However, with a new Government in place, the question as to how this will impact the current Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot fail to be raised. This is bearing the fact that two of the suspects are now Kenya's top government principles i.e. the President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
The ICC expects the government to fully assist the court where required so as not to prejudice the prosecution's case against President Uhuru Kenyatta, deputy President William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang. Failure to this may compel the prosecution to explore other options, such as referring the matter to the Chamber for direction. This referral of the matter to the Chamber for direction may occasion the enforcement of more stringent measures upon the accused.
There has been a massive withdrawal of witnesses from the ICC cases, and as a result the prosecution has cited harassment, intimidation and bribery as the key factors. In another turn of events, Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert withdrew from the case facing President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, citing the main reason as negligence and inconclusive investigations by the prosecution.
The office of the prosecutor asserts that the government's cooperation with regard to availing the required information and with respect to witness protection will ensure an expeditious court process and determination of the case. The ends of justice will equally be served.
Recently, the Attorney General Githu Muigai paid a visit to The Hague. This, according to him, was intended to foster cooperation between the parties involved in the ongoing process at the ICC.
The visit, which coincided with the Deputy President's status conference, follows a stalemate between the Attorney General and the office of the ICC Prosecutor, where the latter claimed that witnesses were facing harassment. The AG has dismissed Ms Bensouda's claims that the government has refused to furnish her office with documents relating to the cases. He, on the contrary stated that his office had cooperated by providing the ICC with the documents required and ensured that the witnesses were accorded due protection.
During the status conference, the Deputy President was questioned about his request not to attend his trial at the ICC on the grounds that he had a constitutional duty to serve the people of Kenya as Deputy President. The Court sought to know whether he vied for the DP position fully aware of the charges he was facing at the ICC.
So far, the trial has witnessed different phases which have seen the dropping of charges against former head of public service and Cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura, following withdrawal of the charges against him by the prosecutor on the basis that her key witnesses had lied and received bribes.
The Uhuru-Ruto Alliance was seen as a move that was intended to foster unity and reconciliation especially between the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities, which were at loggerheads in the contested 2007 Elections, as well as aliensate support towards the ICC.
At the moment Diplomats from Kenya and other African countries are attending African Union Summit "50-years on" in Ethiopia in a bid to map out the next fifty years of political and economic integration. The ICC issue may come up as one of the items on the agenda, even as the body has been critical of The Hague based court, stating that it unfairly targets Africans in its prosecutions. The union has also been trying to emerge as a force for stability in this continent which is unfortunately, often troubled by violence, conflicts and coups.
However, with the current government, a conflict of interest is definitely bound to arise when it comes to the question of loyalties. As a participant in global relations, the Government has to adhere to the International expectations as stipulated under the Rome Statute and cooperate with the ICC.
On the other hand the Government, despite being constituted of the ICC suspects has to work towards protecting its interests. Whether or not the process will yield fruit is now the preserve of the key actors in the process, including the international community. As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Kenya is bound to cooperate with the international demands of the court process; therefore Kenyans should remain peaceful as the court process progresses so as to ensure that a just determination is yielded.