Although it was expected, the acquittal of Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang by the International Criminal Court (ICC) brought more confusion and fear than relief to Kenyans.
Ruto and Sang were among the six accused of being criminally responsible for the crimes against humanity committed in Kenya in the 2008 post election ethnic violence. The other four – who included President Uhuru Kenyatta – were earlier released by the Court.
Ocampo’s Faulty Formula
True, many people died, were maimed or lost property and homes in violence. True that Kenyans cried for justice—not only punitive but mainly deterrent.
But it is also true that in their desire for justice and deterrence, they did not critically examine the work that the ICC was doing about the issue in Kenya. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced at the onset that he was going to make Kenya an example to discourage ethnic violence not only in Kenya but elsewhere in the world. And he went ahead to devise a formula by which he selected an equal number of PNU and ODM members—the two main political parties with presidential candidates. The people thus selected, Mr. Ocampo told Kenyans, where those who bore the greatest responsibility.
It was an absurd formula. Except in a dual,it is difficult to determine and apportion blame in this manner. There were a few murmurs, but impatience stopped the murmurs.
Key Question Ignored
Ignored also was the answer to the basic question: Who, on the face value bore the greatest responsibility? The simple answer, as everyone knew, were those competing to be president—Mr. Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Raila Odinga. These are the people who should have gone to the ICC. The rest were crowds fighting for people they never knew – and never would know. The six that Ocampo took to the ICC were only in front of that crowd – the people who were next to, and personally knew Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga.
And that is why all Kenyan are now losers. The hope for peace that they had built has now crumpled with the ICC acquittal of Ruto and Sang. The fear of chaos—possibly now unstoppable chaos—must return to haunt them even as we near another election year.