By Kabukuru, Wanjohi
New African , No. 490
KENYA WILL SHOW HOW TO MANAGE past violence, and how to create a peaceful process for the upcoming elections in 2012. Kenya will be an example to the world." With these words, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), served notice in Nairobi in early November that Kenya would not be the same after his visit.
While the Kenyan government did not directly give Ocampo a free hand, he managed to get a firm commitment from President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that Kenya "will cooperate with the ICC to ensure that those who bear the responsibility for crimes committed during the post-election conflict [in 2008] are brought to justice."
That the ghosts of Kenya's moment of infamy continue to haunt the masterminds of the election violence is obvious. Some cabinet ministers and prominent politicians from both sides of the governing coalition are said to be on the list of 10 politicians alleged to be the initiators and financiers of the post-election trouble. However, 21 months after the violence, not a single man or woman has been charged and this is what has given rise to more questions than answers on the political future of Kenya if the ICC takes charge. Since July this year when Ocampo received the envelope containing "the names of the accused" from former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, Kenyan politics has taken on a new dimension.
When the coalition government was cobbled together in mid-2008, the reality that Kenyan politics were set for realignment came to the fore. Interestingly, the re-engineering of Kenyan politics has all the hallmarks of external interference.
Annan came to Kenya under the auspices of the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities and led the international community in brokering a peaceful end to the chaos and a power-sharing deal. Yet the reality is that while Annan is officially an AU representative, the AU has not been calling the shots in Kenya. Instead, many of the issues pertaining to the post-election violence have been discussed in The Hague and Geneva and not in Addis Ababa (the AU headquarters) nor in Arusha (home of the East African Community).
Besides, the Obama administration in Washington has been pressing for "reforms" in Nairobi. In late October, Washington, through its embassy in Nairobi, revoked the visa of Kenya's attorney general, Amos Wako, describing him as a "senior government official who has been obstructive to reforms".
Washington has further warned that it would revoke visas for another dozen prominent government officials if Nairobi continued to obstruct the prosecution of those responsible for the postelection violence. It was the visa revocation, which has seen Wako threatening to sue the US government, that paved the way for Ocampo's visit to Nairobi. The EU, through its head of delegation, has also waded in. "The European Union expects and looks forward to full and effective cooperation of the Kenyan government with the ICC," says Ann Dismor, the EU representative who also doubles as Swedish ambassador to Kenya. …