Fri Dec 05 21:58:02 EAT 2014
Could Bensouda have broken chain that held Jubilee camps together?
There are fears that things could start falling apart in the UhuRuto house.
- The two main accused, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, revived their abandoned 2002 electoral alliance under the former ruling party, Kanu, to run as a team under a coalition of newly-minted parties, The National Alliance (TNA) and the United Republican Party (URP), in 2013.
- That the two hitherto feuding peoples could unite behind the two leaders after a bloody history of conflict dating back to the 1992 pre-election violence in the Rift Valley stands as one of the major feats of Kenyan political alignment.
- Infighting in the corridors of power between the Kenyatta and Ruto camps, over issues such as the make-up of government, top public service appointments and lucrative tenders on major infrastructural projects in the energy and communications sectors, have become the talk of town.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda did the inevitable in taking a very strong hint from the presiding judges and withdrawing the crimes against humanity charges facing President Uhuru Kenyatta.
What she might not have factored in her capitulation is that by freeing President Kenyatta while Deputy President William Ruto is still in the dock, she might be playing an inadvertent role in shaking up the Kenyan political equation.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have been bound at the hips by the common thread of the court’s indictment for crimes against humanity.
They were on opposite sides during the 2007 elections — Mr Kenyatta supported President Kibaki’s re-election on the PNU ticket while Mr Ruto backed the ODM challenge fronted by Mr Raila Odinga — and were subsequently charged with crimes against humanity for allegedly directing and financing combatants on their respective sides during the bloody post-election violence.
The indictment (initially against six suspected key perpetrators, who included then Public Service head Francis Muthaura and Commissioner of Police Hussein Ali on the PNU side, and ODM chairman Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua Sang) forced a notable realignment of Kenyan politics.
The two main accused, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, revived their abandoned 2002 electoral alliance under the former ruling party, Kanu, to run as a team under a coalition of newly-minted parties, The National Alliance (TNA) and the United Republican Party (URP), in 2013.
Their campaign exploited the indictments to the hilt, fashioning itself as a referendum against alleged meddling in Kenyan politics by western nations they accused of manipulating the international justice system. That ODM was seen to back the indictment and the clear western pressure, particularly from the US and Britain, for Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to be barred from the elections, only added fuel to the conspiracy theories which held that Mr Odinga was looking to knocking out his key political opponents so that he could gain a clear run for State House.
Instead of the cases knocking out Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, they brought them together and allowed the sense of grievance and victimisation to solidly unite their hitherto feuding ethnic blocs.
Mr Ruto not only strengthened his grip on the Kalenjin people, but achieved a major feat in persuading them to vote as one for Mr Kenyatta, who similarly became the unchallenged champion of Kikuyu political aspirations.
That the two hitherto feuding peoples could unite behind the two leaders after a bloody history of conflict dating back to the 1992 pre-election violence in the Rift Valley stands as one of the major feats of Kenyan political alignment.
However, the jury is still out on whether the Kikuyu-Kalenjin political alliance is built on solid foundations at the grassroots, or is held only at the top by the power-sharing pact between President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
If the common International Criminal Court shackles are what held them together, then there are justifiable fears things could start falling apart if the Kalenjin feel they have been left holding the short end of the stick as long as Mr Ruto and Mr Sang remain the only ones still fighting the threat of lengthy jail terms.
How fragile the situation could become has occasionally been seen over the past year, whenever Mr Ruto’s key political allies voiced frustrations over the retention in government of key public servants inherited from the Kibaki government, whom they accuse of “fixing” Mr Ruto at the the international court.
In the cross hairs have been former Public Service head and present Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia, Defence Principal Secretary Mueta Iringo, political adviser Nancy Gitau and former National Intelligence Service boss Michael Gichangi.
The accusations stem from the fact that at the time the post-election violence was being investigated by the Justice Philip Waki’s commission of inquiry, even before the international court took up the matter, Mr Kenyatta was still by President Kibaki’s side, while Mr Ruto was in Mr Odinga’s opposition party, the ODM.
The State security and administrative machinery and the incumbent political networks were apparently at the time mobilised to nail Mr Ruto and other opposition leaders seen as responsible for the post-election violence, particularly the endemic mass expulsion of Kikuyus from the Rift Valley.
Maj-Gen Gichangi has since been removed from office and Mr Kimemia demoted somehow by losing the powerful post of Public Service boss. Mr Iringo was also removed from the powerful post as PS in charge of Interior and Coordination of National Government. Defence is still an equally senior position, but comes with less capacity to control security and government administrative organs.
However, these changes might not have been specifically to placate Mr Ruto, but as part of President Kenyatta’s efforts to create his own power base rather than retain what he inherited from President Kibaki.
BEYOND POLITICAL ALLIANCE
Although President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto get on famously, implicitly trusting one another, and with apparent friendship beyond the political alliance, the same cannot be said of key figures in their respective political camps, and further down to the grassroots, where tension and suspicion remain despite the undoubted achievements of the Jubilee Coalition in overcoming adversity to snatch a famous political victory.
Infighting in the corridors of power between the Kenyatta and Ruto camps, over issues such as the make-up of government, top public service appointments and lucrative tenders on major infrastructural projects in the energy and communications sectors, have become the talk of town.
Recent media exposés about the so-called Sky Team supposedly loyal to Mr Ruto and looking to dominate government procurement were seen to have come from leaks traced to Harambee House, the Office of the President.
Eyebrows were raised just a few days ago when a political strategist known to consult for Harambee House placed a Facebook post suggesting that the Mandera terrorist attacks were intended to create room for impeachment of President Kenyatta so that the next in line could take over.
How deep feelings run at the lower levels was captured on Facebook not too long ago when a journalist generally regarded as part of President Kenyatta’s social media propaganda outfit posted a disparaging comment on Mr Ruto and the Kalenjin people. The response was instant, with many contributors revealing the depth of animosity towards the Kikuyu.
The common threat was that the Kenyatta-Ruto alliance was just a marriage of convenience that did not, and would not be allowed to make room for a return of the Kikuyu ejected from the Rift Valley.
In the already forming chatter after the dropping of Mr Kenyatta’s case, it is evident that opposition activists are keen to play up the spectre of Kikuyu-Kalenjin fallout. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto seem to be aware of this and might be crafting strategies to limit any negative impact.
This might have informed the President’s statement yesterday welcoming the withdrawal of his case, in which he declared solidarity with Mr Ruto and Mr Sang: “William Ruto is an indispensable asset in my government. I look forward to the day when we shall not have the distraction of the trials.”