Nairobi — PRIME Minister Raila Odinga yesterday accused Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto of hatching a plot to avoid standing trial at the International Criminal Court. In a statement released yesterday, Raila said the tabling in Parliament last Thursday of documents purporting to be from the British Foreign Office was geared towards blocking the ICC trials.
"It is clear that the present posturing against the ICC, complete with the weaving in of the PM's name and that of the British Government, is a dress rehearsal for non-cooperation with the ICC. It is clear that the foundation is being laid for the accused to refuse to attend trials of the cases against them," Raila said.
He dismissed allegations by Ruto who claimed on Sunday that Raila was the biggest beneficiary of the post-election violence prosecutions. "...the lie is being sold that the Prime Minister is a beneficiary of post-election violence. In fact he was the greatest loser. In the interests of peace, he accepted being denied his rightful position as the elected President of Kenya," said the statement sent by his campaign secretariat.
He said the coalition government was established to restore Kenya to normalcy and shepherd institutional reforms but that not everyone has been co-operative. "The real beneficiaries of post-election violence are only too evident. They include those currently in the process of returning property acquired in areas where post-election violence victims were known to have been dispossessed of their land. Now these beneficiaries are rushing to return the land, in order to evade court processes. What greater admission of guilt could there be?," declared Raila
Ruto last months told court that he intended to surrender 100 acres of land he is accused of grabbing from an internally displaced person in Kaptabei Scheme of Turbo in Uasin Gishu district after the post-election violence.
Ruto's Sunday statement came in reaction to comments by Raila during an interview with KASS FM where he accused Uhuru and Ruto of inciting Kenyans, propaganda and character assassination of other leaders. Raila said Ruto and Uhuru risked arrest by the ICC if they did not stop fomenting ethnic strife through 'prayer rallies'. "Odinga has just come out to confirm what we always knew. But we are wondering why he thinks we should be jailed yet he is the sole chief and principal beneficiary of the post-election violence," Ruto said on Sunday. Uhuru also criticised Raila saying, "He should not be allowed to polarize our country in this manner."
Yesterday, in a further statement to the one he issued on Saturday, Raila said Kenyans will have to choose between the rule of law and impunity in the next elections. "The ICC has unfortunately now become an election issue. But since it IS an election issue, let it now be known that the coming elections will also be a referendum on impunity. The time has come when every one of us must stand up to be counted. Either you are for the rule of law, or you are for impunity. It can't be both. A choice must be made," he said.
The war of words involving Odinga, Uhuru and Ruto was sparked off last Thursday when Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo tabled alleged Foreign Office briefing papers that he claimed were proof that the UK wanted to indict President Kibaki over the post-poll clashes. The British High Commission and the NSIS have since dismissed the documents as forgeries. The UK minister for African Affairs, Henry Bellingham, is due in Kenya next week to discuss the documents.
Speaking during the conference on national diversity, race and ethnicity organised by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission at the KICC yesterday, Raila said the ICC and Waki Commission had conducted independent investigations and rejected claims by the Ocampo suspect and their allies that he was responsible for their problems.
Raila accused his opponents of stirring up ethnic animosity and urged them to shun ethnic based politics. "We need to compete for power on the basis of credentials, policies and ideologies," he said. He cautioned that the situation would worsen as elections draw closer if ethnicity was not discussed openly and candidly.
"We must ensure that our competitive politics can and must be made to facilitate cohesion. We must ensure that vested interests are submerged into common interest. Only then shall we move forward in single formation with single purpose to make Kenya a better place for all of us to live," he said. At the conference, Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, who has openly opposed Uhuru and Ruto vying for the presidency, said the rule of law shall prevail. Uhuru was scheduled to speak soon after Raila but did not show up.