Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Lawyer Accuses UK of Plot to Bar Kenyatta

A top UK lawyer has accused Britain of working to block Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta from running for the presidency in the forthcoming general elections.

Courtenay Griffiths, in an opinion published in The Telegraph on Friday under the headline 'The International Criminal Court is hurting Africa,' argues that Britain is using a case facing Kenyatta at The Hague-based ICC to block his presidential bid in favour of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

"Britain does not want Mr Kenyatta to be President of Kenya. It sees its interests as best served through the election of Mr Odinga in the forthcoming contest, a peculiar position given Odinga's former support for East Germany and Cuba (his son is named Fidel Castro Odinga). The Western-educated Kenyatta appears a more obvious choice, had the British not been involved in the incarceration of his father," said Griffiths.

The barrister who unsuccessfully defended former Liberian President Charles Taylor at his war crimes trial claims the case against the four Kenyans at The Hague is defective as the ICC has not directly sourced witnesses.

Kenyatta is facing trial at the ICC alongside former Civil Service chief Francis Muthaura, Eldoret North MP William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang.

They are accused of planning or financing the deadly post election violence of 2008 which led to the deaths of at least 1,300 people and displacement of thousands more.

"Instead, it outsourced evidence-gathering to local intermediaries. In the Kenya case, these intermediaries happened to be well known associates of Raila Odinga, the current prime minister of Kenya, and Mr Kenyatta's long-term political opponent," he said.

Griffiths said Britain's support for the International Criminal Court is wrong and undermines its credibility in African countries.

The barrister argues that the foreign policy adopted by the UK to Kenya is dangerous due to the appointment of Henry Bellingham as Minister for Africa.

"This is not a Frederick Forsyth novel, but the dangerous reality of Britain's foreign policy towards Kenya" - Griffiths.

"This is not a Frederick Forsyth novel, but the dangerous reality of Britain's foreign policy towards Kenya. Henry Bellingham, our Minister for Africa, is a close friend of Simon Mann, the mercenary who tried and failed to orchestrate a coup in Equatorial Guinea," Griffiths wrote in the opinion published on Friday.

He said Bellingham has publicly supported the work of the International Criminal Court that has so far only tried black Africans, when, from Libya to Syria, there are many more victims who still await justice.

"Some would argue it is reasonable for countries to exercise their power in foreign countries through legal means," he said.

The lawyer said he is convinced that Britain's support for the ICC, and in particular funding of the Kenya case, is seriously undermining its credibility and influence in Africa.

"The case against Uhuru Kenyatta, the Deputy Prime Minister of Kenya, is of serious concern, not only because of the serious lack of evidence against him, but also because of the methods used to obtain this evidence," the opinion said.

The view implies that the evidence relied on to nail Kenyatta was sourced by individuals close to the Kenyan Prime Minister.

Thus, "this case, which revolves around a single witness sourced by those close to Mr Odinga, should set off alarm bells in the Foreign Office."

The opinion concludes that "for Britain to maintain its influence in Kenya and therefore in Africa it needs to withdraw its support and funding of the Kenyatta case."

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