This is a guest post by Asch Harwood, Africa program research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Judges at the International Criminal Court delivered their long awaited decision to move forward with charges of crimes against humanity against four of the six accused Kenyan political figures implicated in the 2007/2008 post election violence. Charges will be against former minister of education William Ruto, radio host Joshua Sang, head of civil service Francis Muthaura, and deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta. Read the decision here.
As Human Rights Watch notes, the verdict represents a step forward in addressing Kenya’s culture of political and criminal impunity. But, it also presents a number of challenges for the Kenyan judiciary as well as the peace and reconciliation process in the run up to presidential elections, to be held in March 2013 (unless the ruling coalition collapses before).
In an insightful piece on African Arguments, Ken Opalo notes the first challenge will be whether Muthaura and Kenyatta, who are both still active in public office, should resign. Of course, the ICC judges have emphasized that both are innocent until proven guilty. Nevertheless, this issue will be put to the Kenyan judiciary.
Can Ruto and Kenyatta still run for president, given the ICC charges? As Opalo argues, the ICC decision poses enormous challenges for Kenya’s ethnically charged politics, particularly because no one has yet been brought to justice for the violence that left more than one thousand people dead and six hundred thousand displaced in the aftermath of the 2007 elections.
Read Opalo’s piece here.