As Kenyans celebrate the election triumph of Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta as Kenya’s fourth president after defeating his main rival Raila Odinga in the hotly contested election, the west especially the United States and the International Criminal Court (ICC) find themselves in an awkward situation on whether to endorse Uhuru’s presidency.
Uhuru’s slim victory of 50.03% is being challenged by Odinga who has since refused to concede defeat saying the whole process was flawed.
HOW WILL THE ICC DEAL WITH “UHURUTO”?
Kenyatta’s victory will have far reaching consequences on the international stage considering he is set to stand trial in the Hague on charges of crimes against humanity in relation to the 2007 violence that proceeded the ill-fated polls that left scores dead and displaced.
Not only is Kenyatta facing this hurdle, his running mate William Ruto who is the Vice President elect also has the ICC cases to worry about. The status conference of his trial is set to begin on the 28th of this month.
What will the ICC do now that Kenyans have chosen a suspect to be their president? The Hague based organisation’s decision will have to take into account how ethnically the country is polarised, a recipe for possible conflict.
Uhuru and Ruto can only hope the ICC clears them of any wrong doing during the 2007 post-election violence or else their administration is headed for a Bashir-ICC-like conflict.
As if to set the tone of what awaits Uhuru and his government on the international stage, Washington in its congratulatory message to Kenyans did not include the name of the president elect. The U.S has probably done this due to Uhuru charges at the ICC.
This is a clear message the President elect Uhuru and his supporters should not take lightly if the new leader is to have a freedom on the world stage considering what Sudanese President Omar Bashir is experiencing.
“On behalf of the United States of America, I want to congratulate the people of Kenya for voting peacefully on March 4 and all those elected to office. Across the country, Kenyans turned out by the millions to exercise their most fundamental democratic right. I am inspired by the overwhelming desire of Kenyans to peacefully make their voices heard, and I applaud the patience they have shown as votes were tallied.” A statement from US Secretary of State John Kerry read.
“Foremost in our minds is a desire to see the will of the Kenyan people expressed freely and fairly. We strongly urge all parties and their supporters to peacefully address any disputes with today’s announcement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission through the Kenyan legal system, rather than on the streets. These elections are an historic opportunity for the people of Kenya to come together to build a better future. Since its independence in 1963, Kenya has been one of America’s strongest and most enduring partners in Africa. We stand with you at this historic moment and will continue to be a strong friend and ally of the Kenyan people.” It added
The U.S that takes pride in upholding democratic principles has been cautious enough not to include Kenyatta in the message knowing it would draw criticisms for recognising leaders who are facing charges of crimes against humanity. Although the statement recognises the will of Kenyans, it falls short of endorsing the fact that Kenyans also decided that Kenyatta be their president. A contradiction. One question however remains; for how long will the US go on without recognising Uhuru Kenyatta?
For the United States to have a good working relation with Kenya (which it badly needs considering its interests in the region and the strategic location of the East African nation), Uhuru has to be recognised as the dully elected president of Kenya.
What waits to be seen is whether Washington will recognize ICC suspects Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as the new Kenyan leaders?