What you need to know:
- Opinion divided whether Uhuru will make history by moving between State House and ICC
When Uhuru Kenyatta was indicted as one of the four Kenyans bearing the greatest responsibility for the 2007 election violence, many wrote his political obituary.
Will President Uhuru Kenya and Deputy President Wiliam Ruto now make history by commuting between State House and the International Criminal Court at The Hague?
Opinion is divided but many think this is highly unlikely. But in his acceptance speech, Mr Kenyatta indicated that he would co-operate with international institutions and organisations, which could be interpreted to mean that he will continue his co-operation with the ICC.
During the first televised presidential debate, he had also described the trial as “a personal problem”. What is likely to happen now that Mr Kenyatta has become president-elect?
Prof Joel Barkan of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, however, said that several restrictions would be slapped on Kenya by the international community.
“Kenya will not be subject to broad economic sanctions like Iran over its nuclear programme, because the election of ICC indictees will not result in those kinds of punishments. But there are very likely to be travel bans, and other targeted sanctions on the indictees, their families and their assets. It will result in a very awkward relationship,” he said.
Prof Barkan said Kenya will become diplomatically isolated, at least by the leading Western nations, particularly the US, UK and the EU — her major trading partners. If this isolation affects financial aid and trade, then things can become dramatic with severe economic consequences.
The professor of political science however, added that Kenya could “turn East” for business deals and international help as it has been doing under the Kibaki presidency.
And Prof Nyaga Kindiki says it is unlikely that Kenya will be declared a pariah state on Mr Kenyatta’s election. “Usually a country is declared a pariah state if it does not follow the Paris Charter. The international community should reconsider their position about Kenya as a UN member state. If Kenya is declared a pariah state, then the implications will be severe,” he said.
The scholar of Policy Analysis at Moi University said if Kenyans democratically elect Mr Kenyatta, then the international community should respect that decision.
“There will be no need of punishing Kenyans for exercising their democratic right,” he added.
And punishing Kenya is likely to have serious consequences beyond its borders.
As East Africa’s biggest economy, any problems here are likely to affect its neighbours not just in the EAC bloc but South Sudan, DR Congo and Somalia as well where the Kenya Defence Forces are playing a key role in neutralising terror group Al-Shabaab and stabilising the country.
Indeed, the region is likely to oppose any sanctions on Kenya.
President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania has said his government will respect the choice of Kenyans.
In a joint communique issued after the conclusion of President Kibaki’s State visit to Dar-es-Salaam last month, President Kikwete urged the international community not to meddle in Kenya’s internal affairs and its people’s choice of leadership.
US assistant secretary of State Johnnie Carson recently sent a veiled message that the election of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto could have “consequences”.
However, former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Jendayi Frazer denounced his warning at a recent from in the US.
This division on the issue of ICC is likely to encourage President Uhuru to ignore the court, at least for as long as he is in power.
Of course many supporters of ICC, including Prof Karuti Kanyinga of the University of Nairobi, say the world court is the only institution that can bring the big people to account.
“The ICC is the best thing for Kenya,” Prof Kanyinga said at the Brookings Institution where he shared a platform with Ms Frazer.
He described Kenya as “a country where senior and influential people are never held to account for anything whatsoever”.
The ICC serves to warn those suspected of serious crimes that “no matter how far you run, no matter where you go, you will be treated like an ordinary person”.
Prof Makau Matua, the dean of a law school affiliated with the State University of New York, has also warned that electing Uhuru will have serious economic and diplomatic consequences for Kenya.