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Public officials in ICC cases face uncertain future

Posted by BERNARD MOMANYI on January 17, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – Members of the civil society have now vowed to ensure they pressurise government officials named by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo as masterminds of the post election violence to resign, if crimes against humanity which they’re facing are confirmed.

Some of the rights groups say the officials should have quit office immediately their names appeared in the list of suspects facing charges at the war crimes court earlier last year.

“It is not a matter of whether they should or should not resign… in any case, they are in office illegally. These are people who should have stepped aside immediately their names appeared in the Ocampo list,” the Executive Director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) Ndung’u Wainaina said.

Government officials awaiting the verdict of ICC judges over their alleged role in the 2008 deadly violence in Kenya include Ambassador Francis Muthaura, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey (suspended) and Postmaster General Hussein Ali. Kosgey stepped aside last year following abusive of office charges he is facing locally.

“Their continued stay in office is a failure to uphold the basic tenets of the Constitution which requires that public officers must be of no questionable character. This was confirmed immediately they were named by the ICC,” Wainaina told Capital News in an interview on Tuesday.

Muthaura, Uhuru, Kosgey and Ali are named alongside Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Kass FM Radio Presenter Joshua arap Sang.

The suspects are accused murder, forcible transfer, persecution, rape and other inhumane acts that led the loss of 1,300 lives and displacement of close to 500,000 others, mainly in the Rift Valley Province following a disputed presidential election contested by Mwai Kibaki and his main rival Raila Odinga. The dispute was later mediated by former UN chief Kofi Annan who brokered a power-sharing pact that ended with Kibaki becoming President and Odinga taking the office of Prime Minister.

The International Centre for Policy and Conflict has vowed to ensure suspects who are government officials do not occupy public office until the cases, whose verdict is expected not later than January, 23 re finalised.

“If the cases against them happen to be confirmed, we will do everything possible to ensure they resign,” Wainaina said. “We will also ensure they do not vie for a public position until they are cleared by the courts.”

The former chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Florence Jaoko also said the officials would have no option but to resign or be suspended once charges against them are confirmed.

“Yes they should resign because the national laws require that public servants facing criminal trials are interdicted or suspended,” she told Capital News.

It is the same opinion shared by Tom Aosa, the chairman of the Community Based Organisations (CBO).

“There is no debate about it, the laws are very clear, they should resign upon confirmation of the charges facing them,” he said.

Soon after the officials were named by the ICC Prosecutor as suspects with grave responsibility in the 2007 post poll violence, the government clarified that they would only resign if charges against them are confirmed.

“Therefore, summonses are not charges. It is only after this period of summons, that the judges will either reject or confirm the accusations and thereafter prefer charges against any or all of the six. So far, no one has been charged or indicted,” Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said in a statement on March 10, 2011, soon after the officials were named as suspects.

To reiterate, Mutua said at the time, the decision to charge or not to charge would be made after the mentioned suspects had recorded their perspectives before the judges.

“As per our laws, it is only after someone has been charged that they are expected to immediately step aside from their public duties. Therefore, let us await the findings of the court,” the government spokesman said in reference to the much awaited ruling.

There is growing anxiety amongst Kenyans since last week as the date nears for the suspects to know their fate.

Police have announced they will beef up security in all parts of the country, particularly areas perceived to be hot spots to curb any form of violence once the ICC makes public its ruling.

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