On 7 and 8 April, 2011, the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed charges against six prominent Kenyan individuals whom the ICC prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo believes bear the most responsibility for the post election violence that rocked the country in 2008.
The six individuals are William Samoei Ruto and Henry Kiprono Kosgey (both serving Members of Parliament), Joshua Arap Sang (radio journalist with a popular vernacular station), Francis Kirimi Muthaura (Secretary to Cabinet and Head of Public Service), Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (Deputy Prime Minister and serving Member of Parliament) and Mohammed Hussein Ali (Former Chief of Police).
The visit of the six to the Hague has drawn mixed reactions and raised political temperatures in the country with part of the coalition government supporting the ICC move and another denouncing it.
Dr Kabera Karanja of the blog Killing Corruption Monster discusses some of the tough conditions set by the court especially with respect to speech inciting to violence. He notes:
With home-coming reception rally planned by the supporters of the two presidential candidates, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta and their declared onslaught on their main presidential candidate rival Raila Odinga, it will be a difficult or impossible balancing act to require the two to tame their language. If Raila were to utilize this opportunity to deride his opponents, then Ruto and Uhuru could easily argue that the ICC is being used to silence them and therefore ‘working for Raila’.
Ken Opalo observes:
Kenyan politics is currently in flux. Two key presidential candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto may be barred from running for public office next year on constitutional grounds. The key beneficiaries of such an eventuality will most probably be Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, the Premier and Vice President respectively…
Over the last few weeks Uhuru and Ruto have been crisscrossing the country and holding chest-thumping rallies to prove to someone – either the ICC or the Kenyan political and economic elite – that they have the support of the grassroots. They have also issued thinly veiled threats that violence may erupt in the country if they are whisked to the Hague and barred from running for president in next year’s general election.
The Diary of A Gay Kenyan comments on the live proceedings from the ICC:
I'm sitting at home watching Live NTV showing Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya's founding president, appearing at the Hague accused of crimes against humanity. Looks like the penny has just dropped…
When crossing roads, keep an eye out for the bike lane, the tram lane, AND the car lane. And you might want to obey the traffic lights as well, as the pedestrians also wait for the pedestrian crossing light to turn green before crossing, even in the absence of incoming cars. When being driven within The Hague, you might decry all the “wasted” driving lanes that are taken up by the bicycle lanes, but there is no overlapping from drivers into the bike lanes as the cyclists also seem to have significant cycling rights.
Thinkers Room states:
I stand unsure whether to weep or laugh at the absurdity of Kenyans celebrating the return of possible perpetrators of the election violence. These same Kenyans for some reason don’t give a rat’s **##(expletives) about the victims who lost family, friends, property, homes and livelihoods!
I am forced to conclude that the media’s insistence on perpetuating this farce is a start reminder that perhaps the media is missing among the Ocampo 6.
Helping broadcast innuendo, tribalism and hate speech as far as I am concerned makes the media just as guilty as the perpetrators.
In discussing the issue the Twitter hashtag #Ocampo6 is trending. A section of Kenyans on Twitter are actually urging the media not to cover the six individuals:
KE media need to give the #Ocampo6 a 7day media blackout .@ntvkenya @KTNKenya @k24tv @citizentvkenya Please RT
One group has set up a Facebook page to coerce the media not to feature news items that focus on the campaigns by the suspects.
The following are Twitter reactions to the news:
@UncleCyrus: The social media is giving the politicians more coverage than the mainstream media itself.Just check the #Ocampo6 on twitter.