Kenya: Ruto Claims There is a Plot to Revive His ICC Case to Stop His 2022 Bid

Deputy President William Ruto (file photo).
24 January 2020

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto has opened a can of worms, with claims that there are fresh attempts to resuscitate his case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The DP, whose case was dropped in 2016 for lack of evidence was facing three crimes against humanity charges-murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution-all allegedly committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence that left more than 1,200 people dead and 600,000 others internally displaced.

"You never know what they are cooking, maybe there will be other cases. They have already arrived at the ICC case and are looking for witnesses so that they can say this case did not end properly," Ruto told Ken Mijungu, who hosted him on NTV Tonight show on Thursday, "My political opponents want to make every effort to stop my candidature."

He did not however, provide names of those scheming against him.

During the 2-hour interview, Ruto spoke on a range of topical issues, from his 2022 ambitions, the handshake, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which has raised political temperatures in the country and the war on corruption

On the ICC case, Ruto said Kenya's spy boss Retired Major General Phillip Kameru had confided in him last year about renewed attempts to gather new evidence.

Ruto faced crimes against humanity charges alongside 6 others, among them President Uhuru Kenyatta whose charges were also dropped. Both denied roles in the post-election violence.

The two leaders were on opposing sides, with the President supporting then-President Mwai Kibaki while Ruto was an ardent defender of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

"You see, I was a very easy target in the NARC administration (under former President Mwai Kibaki), they have been trying to look for a place to slow down William Ruto, how they can slow this man. If I was guilty of anything, I wouldn't be seated here (as the Deputy President)," he said.

The DP also attributed the move by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to revive a land fraud case in which he was acquitted in 2010, as part of the wider plan by a group he referred as a "cabal" to stop him from achieving his presidential ambitions."

In the ICC case, the DP was charged for defrauding the Kenya Pipeline Company through the sale of Ngong Forest land then valued at Sh272 million.

But he was acquitted in the case he faced alongside former aide to former President Daniel arap Moi, Joshua Kulei, and former Lands boss Sammy Mwaita. The two were also acquited.

Detectives at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) re-opened the investigations, by summoning directors of four firms that were linked to the transaction, with the aim of establishing ownership and the entire transaction trail.

Lawyer Katwa Kigen has confirmed that he appeared before the detectives at DCI Headquarters on behalf of the firms. "They asked for documents on the sale transaction and were also interested to know the names of the directors," he said.

When Ruto, at the time serving as Education Minister, and the two others were charged, the prosecution was hard-pressed to prove that they indeed received money from the land transaction, in what led to their acquittal because no evidence was tabled.

They were subsequently acquitted by Gilbert Mutembei, a Magistrate who heard and determined their case at the time.

The re-opening of the case comes at a time Ruto is facing turbulent political times and though he has publicly declared his support for the Building Bridges Initiative(BBI), he continues to be on the receiving end from pro-Raila leaders, who insist his support is not sincere.

His woes perceived are believed to have started after President Kenyatta and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)leader made shook hands as a sign of a ceasefire in March 2018, after a prolonged electioneering period, marred by bloodshed and deaths.

DP Ruto and his allies have since declared that they will start attending the BBI consultative forums, starting with this weekend event in Mombasa, prompting organisers like Governor Hassan Joho and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed to issue restrictions, including "they are welcome but they will not speak,"

These remarks have not gone down well with the DP, who declared, "BBI is an inclusive program, no one has the right to lecture others or decide who should or should not attend."

On the handshake, Ruto reiterated that ODM leader Raila Odinga had reached out to him, way before the pact with the President.

"Before the handshake came to be, it is a discussion we had with the President. We had agreed that it is good to tone down the political temperatures," he said, dismissing talk that he was kept in the dark on the matter and only saw it on live television.

Despite the common perception that the he is "frustrated" over the current working plans in the Government, the DP wondered "how can you be frustrated with your own Government."

He welcomed a recent circular directing all civil servants "to get back to work" and desist from engaging in politics "around the BBI."

While it is evident that the 2013 bromance between him and the President has faded, the DP said he remains the only politician "who has offered the President support for all through since 1998."

On whether the political marriage with President Kenyatta is dead, the DP amusingly wondered "what marriage? Uhuru Kenyatta is married to Margaret, while William Ruto is married to Rachel."

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