They voted for Hague but are now praying with ICC suspects
Posted Saturday, February 4 2012 at 22:30
On the evening of February 12, 2009, MPs Lewis Nguyai, Isaac Ruto and Ekwe Ethuro burst into celebration.
The same day, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga walked out of Parliament crestfallen.
The trio were among 93 MPs who humbled the two coalition principals when they voted to reject a Bill proposing the formation of a special tribunal to try those suspected to have organised the post-election violence of 2007/8. (READ: Kenya MPs vote against local tribunal)
This effectively paved the way for the criminal proceedings at The Hague-based International Criminal Court involving eminent Kenyans – including Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto. (READ: Annan to send Kenya violence chiefs to The Hague)
But in a dramatic turn, the group that supported the trials at The Hague has embraced the two accused, emerging as their most vocal supporters in and outside Parliament.
Probably unexplored is the inconvenient fact that the MPs who are posing as their comrades-in-arms by turning up in large numbers at their rallies and spewing rage at the ICC proceedings are members of the very cast that ensured the suspects will stand trial at The Hague. (DOWNLOADS: MPs who voted against the Bill and MPs who voted for the Bill)
The narrative of the meetings has been the push for a unity pact to stop Prime Minister Raila Odinga from succeeding President Kibaki.
In doing so, the accused have resorted to hyperbole and hysteria into which their respective communities have been drawn.
Cry for victims
Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo has been critical of the “prayer” rallies, saying the focus should be on victims, not the accused.
He says: “I see preachers in rallies praying for the accused, but who will speak for the voiceless? Don’t the victims deserve prayers, too? We must not forget the victims of the post-election violence.”
Mr Nguyai – and indeed most of the naysayers – must rue the statements they made in their campaign for the trials to be held in The Hague.
On February 4, 2009, the Kikuyu MP declared that The Hague option was the “only way” to end the culture of impunity in Kenya and ensure that justice was done. (READ: House still divided over tribunal Bills)
He argued that a local tribunal had no capacity to prosecute the violence suspects.
Mr Ethuro was critical of a letter by Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura lobbying MPs to attend Parliament and vote in support of the tribunal Bill.
He was categorical that the high-profile lobbying would not deter MPs from voting for The Hague option.
In a somewhat cruel twist of fate, the same Mr Muthaura would more than two years later be indicted by the ICC, dealing a body blow to his otherwise acclaimed career in the public service.