Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A permanent stain.

Every military commander knows that military plans do not survive first contact, or words to that effect. The commanding generals of the Jubilee Alliance have had to adapt to the changing political environment, especially with the changing fortunes of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Fortune favours the prepared mind and Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto are reaping the benefits of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's (and her predecessor's) missteps in the two Kenya cases. Innocent till proven guilty is the foundation of the Doctrine of Presumption of Innocence and Mr Kenyatta, bar the unexpected, is going to witness the collapse of an international case against him. Mr Ruto may yet be acquitted.

That, at least, is what we are told to see. Let us go beyond the superficial, though. Kenya, in 2005, acceded to and ratified the Rome Statute and pledged to uphold its provisions. There was no reason for Kenya to accede let alone ratify the treaty; Kenya my have had serious political violence in its brief history as an independent nation, but even the clashes of 1992 and 1997 did not raise in the peoples' minds the spectre that in Kenya war crimes had been committed. Mwai Kibaki and his Cabinet may have been persuaded by the financial sops that come with these kinds of treaties to sign the treaty, but there really was no reason to accede and ratify the Rome Statute.

Mwai Kibaki wasn't really interested in a second term; he was sickly and he knew he wouldn't cope well with the strains of leading a fractious nation, a termite infested government and a shady opposition. But he changed his mind. He mobilised his political troops. And he refused to concede. Then the country went to shit. Raila Odinga claimed victory. Kibaki and his troops told him to get stuffed. Then it got worse. Thousands were murdered. Hundreds of thousands were raped, maimed, and displaced. Then it became apocalyptic. Mwai Kibaki's government refused to investigate, prosecute or try any of the thousands of cases that arose after that election. 

He did the next best thing. He appointed a Commission of Inquiry and hoped against hope that it would do what all previous commission had done, that is, whitewash the whole affair, exonerate the key suspects and give Kenyans a chance to vent but essentially guarantee that nothing would be done. But he made the grave error of appointing Philip Waki who had no love lost for people who would have radical surgeried his ass out of the judiciary on what turned out to be false testimony who proceeded o investigate with a certain vengeance, prepare and publish his report and then invited the International Criminal Court to Kenya.

In all this, we were assured that the plight of the victims was the reason for the maneuvering. The Office of the Prosecutor was investigating on behalf of the victim. Civil society organisations were participating in the investigations on behalf of the victims. The main suspects reconciled for the sake of the victims. Lip service, one and all. It has been five years. The victims have not been compensated for the lost property. Many lost their lands; they will never go back home. Witnesses who vowed to tell of the horrors of the violence have recanted. The worst betrayal must be the people who claimed to be their leaders and to speak on their behalf have abandoned them to their fate. Politicians and men of the cloth have washed their hands of the victims; they have hitched their wagons to the train pulled by the suspects.

When all is said and done, when the dust has finally settled, and the history books are written, UhuRuto will be praised for its tactics, determination and vision. The footnotes, however, will be a painful reminder of the betrayal of the victims by their government, the Office of the Prosecutor, civil society and the mighty International Criminal Court. This betrayal will linger long after UhuRuto's bones have whitened; it will be a permanent stain on the national conscience.

No comments: