16 March 2013

Kenya: Worst Case Scenarios - Impeachment and Ruto-Alone-At-ICC Spectres

Even if the multiple obstacles placed in court in the path of an Uhuru Kenyatta-William Ruto administration fall like dominos between now and the convening of the eleventh Parliament, the floors of the House and Senate could well become the final arena of the veritable war on their presidency.

If both men are still ICC crimes-against-humanity indictees when Parliament convenes, they could well face motions of impeachment for which they will need overwhelming numbers in both Houses to protect themselves against.

Chapters 8-11 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 establish the structure of the Government of Kenya, including the Legislature, which is now twin-pronged, comprising, inside the eleventh Parliament, both the National Assembly and the Senate.

The other branches are the executive, the judiciary, and the devolved governments. Among other crucial things, for instance national expenditure, the National Assembly also oversees and reviews the conduct of the President, the Deputy President and lesser State officers.

The eleventh Parliament is uniquely equipped to remove even the highest officers of State if the need arises.

The Senate, which, although it concerns itself in the main with debating and passing Bills concerning devolved government (the counties), also has vital input into any resolutions of the National Assembly touching on the impeachment of the President or the Deputy President.

If both Houses of Parliament decide that ICC indictees have no business leading Kenya; or that if the President is no longer an international indictee but the Deputy President is, the latter has no business being in office, then they would move the appropriate Motion for Impeachment.

This prospect remains a nightmare scenario for Uhuru and Ruto very early in their administration.

If the ICC lets Uhuru off the hook before the eleventh Parliament sits for the first time, but holds on tenaciously to a continuing prosecution of Ruto, the former will finally suffer a predicament that will be even keener than any sustained by President Mwai Kibaki when he tried to get both of them out of the jaws of their joint torment as part of his succession exit strategy.

Uhuru owes Ruto his Presidency. Ruto delivered the Rift Valley grassroots in ways that not even the rival Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, which prides itself on considerable grassroots smarts, could conceive of in advance.

All eyes would be on how an Uhuru who is both the Fourth President and no longer encumbered by the heavy cross of the ICC would treat the man who delivered the Presidency to him, who is his substantive deputy but is still afflicted by a prosecution at The Hague.

The history of Kenyan politics is replete with episodes of use-and-dump outcomes and strategies, beginning with the pioneering administration of Uhuru's own Dad, the late Jomo Kenyatta, in 1963 and until 1978.

And the trouble is not necessarily that the man in charge at any one time is a natural-born user and dumper or ingrate - whether Kenyatta Snr., Daniel arap Moi or Kibaki.

In fact, it has been more often the case that there are very many other pressures from other factors and players banging on the door of an incumbent and seeking inclusion to the exclusion of many of those already in place.

National Assembly and Senate majority numbers and deal-making are going to be all-important early in an Uhuruto administration. The power pact between Uhuru's The National Alliance (TNA) and Ruto's United Republican Party (URP) under the umbrella of the Jubilee Coalition is 50-50, a figure that no Kikuyu Presidential administration has been able to respect and honour, so far.

Can Uhuru unveil a completely new chapter in power-sharing dynamics? Can he and Ruto keep impeachment at bay in both Houses of Parliament, both as a power pair and in the event of attempts being made to impeach Ruto on his own? Can Uhuru take unstinting care of Ruto's interests should the latter go down in flames at The Hague?

Long before Ruto goes down alone, what message would an innocent President Uhuru, freed of the ICC charges, meeting with foreign heads of state in both Kenya and abroad, communicate to the Kalenjin heartlands?

The answers to these questions will define the content and character of the newfound Kikuyu-Kalenjin union and Presidential administration.

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