With one deft stroke, the President’s act confounded both friend and foe

What you need to know:

  • The Jubilee cheerleaders, grabbing any excuse to take their performance to The Hague and the world’s famous fleshpots and bhangi "coffee shops" of nearby Amsterdam, were probably relieved that their pleasure jaunt did not abort.
  • But the opposition and the civil society types salivating at the prospect of either the President being humiliated by appearing at the ICC, or conversely snubbing the summons and reducing himself to an international fugitive, must have been left flummoxed.
  • The personal issue was swiftly escalated to a national issue affecting not just the President and his deputy, but all the 40 million or so Kenyans they represent.
  • Further afield, it was pushed as a continental issue as fellow African leaders — who routinely mistreat and butcher their own people and live in fear of being subjected to justice mechanisms — purported to collectively grant themselves immunity from ICC prosecution.
  • President Kenyatta’s decision to attend The Hague as a private citizen might serve as an indicator that the whole issue has gone back to a personal challenge that should not be borne by the Kenyan masses. He alluded to that in his speech.

It was a masterful performance by any standards. As President Uhuru Kenyatta wound through his address to the nation through a special joint sitting of Parliament on Monday, he seemed to be offering all the arguments for choosing to defy the International Criminal Court summons.


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