The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: I Can Run Kenya While On Trial, Says Uhuru

Photo: Capital FM
Uhuru Kenyatta (file photo).

JUBILEE Coalition presidential hopeful Uhuru Kenyatta says that he will face no difficulties in running the country even if he is required to be at The Hague for trial.

The Deputy Prime Minister told Al Jazeera he and his running-mate, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, will continue to appear before the ICC even if they are elected President and Deputy President in March.

He added that there will be no vacuum of power in the country despite the Rome Statutes requiring that the accused must be present in court during the trial.

"There is absolutely no power vacuum because one thing that people always tend to forget is that Kenya is not a banana republic. Kenya is a country that actually has really firm and clear institutions in place," Uhuru told Al Jazeera's Folly Bah Thibault in the interview to be broadcast tomorrow.

Uhuru, who has been touted as one of the front-runners in the elections, said that since the two cases are different and there was a possibility that they would not be required in court at the same time.

"And we also are not facing similar charges. We are never there at the same time if at all. So consequently the system and the state will continue to run regardless of the court. The two are not interlinked," Uhuru said.

Uhuru and Ruto are among four Kenyans the ICC has charged with crimes against humanity in relation to the 2007-08 post-election violence. The other two are former Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura and radio presenter Joshua Sang.

Uhuru said he is confident about the outcome of his trial at The Hague which kicks off in April - a month after the country goes to the polls. There is a possibility that the country will be holding the presidential run-off, if there is no winner in round one, on the same date the trials start.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has told the court that she will need more than one year to present her case against Uhuru, Ruto and their co-accused.

Thibault asked Uhuru if being elected as president would be a vote of confidence against the ICC and if this would be a sign of vindication.

Uhuru said that though this was not a proof of innocence, it would show that Kenyans are not confident with the charges brought against him and Ruto.

"I am not going to say that it means I am innocent but it will show as we have consistently stated that the charges and how they have been brought about, the Kenyans themselves put to question the charges that have been leveled against us. Clearly... I am not saying that international justice doesn't have a purpose... But if Kenyans do vote for us, it will mean that Kenyans themselves have questioned how and the process that has landed us at the ICC but that does not mean that we will cease to cooperate because as I have said most importantly we understand and recognise the rule of law and we will continue to cooperate as long as we are signatories to the Rome Statute," Uhuru said.

At least 1,133 people were reported to have died in the violence that also led to the displacement of 650,000 Kenyans from their homes.

Uhuru said he is innocent and denies any links with the Mungiki sect, one of the key militias involved in some of the violence.

The DPM also said he believes his main opponent in the March presidential race, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, bears the political responsibility for what happened after the 2007 elections.

Uhuru said neither he nor Ruto were running for presidency in 2007 and thus Raila, who is the Cord Alliance presidential nominee, should be asked to explain who was responsible for the violence.

"So consequently, you who wants to assume leadership, you who wants to give this country directions, you who is leading a team, ultimately that is where responsibility accounts and matters, so consequently that question should be addressed by the two individuals who were seeking presidency in 2007," Uhuru said.

Asked whether Raila should be charged at the ICC, Uhuru responded: "The question that I was asked by Mr Ocampo when I was at the pre-trial was whether Raila Odinga should face criminal charges in the ICC... I said I am not an investigator, but what I do know is that Raila Odinga has political responsibility for the chaos that occurred in 2007. I stand by that position."

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Uhuru Kenyatta (file photo).

Presidential hopeful Uhuru Kenyatta says that he will face no difficulties in running the country even if he is required to be at his International Criminal Court post-election ... Read more »