What you need to know:
- Kiunjuri says the caution from ICC judges does not apply to supporters
Judges at the International Criminal Court last week warned the six post-election violence suspects against making public comments that might inflame tensions.
But in apparent defiance of the warning, their political associates say they will not relent in their criticism of the court.
Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri, one of the key organisers of Monday’s “homecoming” rally at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park for the six suspects, said the judges’ warning does not apply to them.
“They (Ocampo Six) have been warned against speaking about matters concerning the ICC and their cases, but they are free to address their supporters. Furthermore, we are not among the Ocampo Six so we are free to talk as we wish,” he said.
The six suspects are Deputy Prime Minister and minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, head of public service Francis Muthaura, Postmaster General Hussein Ali and radio journalist Joshua Sang.
But Prof Macharia Munene of the United States International University says the warning extends beyond the six suspects.
“The tone of the judges implied that it was more a general warning to Kenyan politicians to desist from inflammatory rhetoric,” he said.
But he added that it was unlikely for the court to punish the six for the utterances of their supporters.
Praying for them
Apart from welcoming and praying for them, Mr Kiunjuri said the other item on the rally agenda would be announcing strategy for the 2012 General Election.
“ICC is already a reality, so there is no point in talking continuously about it. Our aim is to forge national unity. We shall also announce how we intend to approach next year’s elections,” he said.
About 100 MPs and 100,000 supporters are expected to attend the rally, according to Mr Kiunjuri.
But civil society lobbies have opposed the gathering, with Ngunjiri Wambugu, the director of Change Associates Trust, saying it could further damage the public image of the six suspects locally and at The Hague.
“It makes it look like the ICC trip – and the happenings around the entire issue – are about them,” he said.
During their appearance at the court on Thursday and Friday, the ICC judges cautioned the six suspects against uttering statements in public that may once again raise public tensions, failure to heed which the court warned it would be compelled to substitute the summonses to appear at the court with warrants of arrest.
In such an eventuality, any suspect who ignores this warning would be jailed until the confirmation hearings are held in September, and if the cases are confirmed, possibly until the end of their cases.
Among the six, Mr Ruto, Mr Kenyatta and Kass FM presenter Joshua Sang have been quite vocal on the ICC cases they face, using public forums to plead their innocence.
The other three – Mr Kosgey, Mr Muthaura and Maj-Gen (Rtd) Ali – have largely desisted from making public comments about their cases.
Last week, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo warned that public rallies could likely do more harm than good to their cases.
“The more you show the court that you can attract huge numbers, the more you convince them that you can influence key decisions or even paralyse law and order through those numbers,” said the minister.
Hate speech directed at political opponents in the run-up to the 2007 General Election is generally acknowledged as one of the key factors that fomented the ethnic tensions that led to the unprecedented violence that followed the release of the disputed presidential results.
Last week, National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia and Internal Security permanent secretary Francis Kimemia warned politicians against making derogatory comments about fellow politicians.
This followed the statements made at a well-attended meeting in Kiambu for Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto prior to their trip to The Hague.
Speakers who took to the podium were accused of uttering inflammatory statements directed at Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Commenting about the unsavoury language he is alleged to have used, Mr Kiunjuri, who is said to have used the harshest words, criticised the NCIC for “wrongful interpretation of their statements and selective application of the law.”
“They interpreted what we said to suit the pattern they wanted; namely that we were insulting Mr Odinga. Furthermore, they have never acted on our complaints whenever the Prime Minister uses abusive language on us,” he said.
However, defending himself and the Commission against the allegations, Dr Kibunjia challenged his accusers to produce evidence, saying he was not going to be used to settle political scores.
“Kenyans forget that the first person I investigated for hate speech was Mr Odinga. It is surprising that I am being accused now of protecting him. I did not take an oath to protect one side of the political divide and if anyone has evidence against me, they should produce it,” he said.