Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto returned from The Hague on Monday promising to preach against election-related violence.
Addressing a homecoming rally-cum prayer meeting at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, the post-election violence suspects asked Kenyans to embrace unity and reconciliation ahead of the 2012 elections.
“We are prepared to carry this cross but our consolation is that never again shall a Kenyan lose his life or property because of political competition,” Mr Ruto said.
He asked young people to shun politicians who thrived on playing divisive politics to rise to power, saying the next election would be determined by young voters.
Mr Kenyatta, who spoke after Mr Ruto, also promised to team up with the Eldoret North MP and other youthful leaders to preach unity and reconciliation.
Using the media
Without mentioning any names, Mr Kenyatta accused some politicians of using the media and foreign missions to push for their trial at The Hague.
“Those who think that they have a big voice through the media and embassies of foreign countries must know that those voices are meaningless. The only voice that matters is that of Kenyans,” he said.
Monday’s message of peace and reconciliation was a break from the combative statements Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto had been issuing prior to their initial appearance at The Hague last week.
“I don’t want to speak in anger,” Mr Kenyatta told the crowd as he took the microphone from Mr Ruto, who had invited him to address the rally.
The change of tone appeared to be in response to a stern warning from International Criminal Court (ICC) presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova against making inflammatory statements.
Ms Trendafilova warned the six suspects that the court would substitute the summonses with warrants of arrest if they engaged in utterances likely to re-ignite violence.
“It came to the knowledge of the Chamber by way of following some articles in the Kenyan newspapers that there are some movements towards re-triggering violence in the country by way of using some dangerous speeches,” she said.
Mr Ruto, Mr Kenyatta, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, Public Service boss Francis Muthaura, Postmaster-General Hussein Ali and Kass FM presenter Joshua arap Sang have been accused of bearing the greatest responsibility for the post-election violence. They will return to the ICC on September 1 and 21 for the confirmation of the case against them.
Only Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta attended the rally which was preceded by a five-hour procession from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Uhuru Park through Outering and Jogoo roads.
At the airport, the pair told supporters that the trip to The Hague was not in vain.
“We want to thank God for having seen us through this… Many said that we shall go to The Hague and not come back. We have now proved them wrong... The devil has been defeated,” Mr Kenyatta told supporters.
Radio presenter Joshua Sang, who was on the same flight with Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, travelled straight to his rural home in Cherang’any for a family prayer gathering.
At the rally, Mr Ruto accused the Lands ministry of failing to resettle victims of the post-election violence despite receiving funds from the Treasury.
He claimed ODM was playing politics with the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“We welcome the prayers held by those on the other side to pray for the IDPs but they should have asked the one who is in charge of land to buy land for the IDPs instead of asking God to grant us what he has already given us,” Mr Ruto added in reference to Saturday’s prayer rally organised by ODM and attended by Lands minister James Orengo.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said Kenya wanted justice for both the victims of the violence and the six suspects.
Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Tourism Minister Najib Balala announced the start of a political alliance led by Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto and other youthful leaders to take over the country’s leadership in the 2012 elections. The rally was attended by more than 50 MPs.