LMO should tread carefully

When it comes to Kenya, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the ICC, should proceed with extreme caution. Perhaps more so than any other country that he is dealing with.

Moreno-Ocampo has been promising to conclude his preliminary investigations by the end of the year, and with good reason. In 2012, Kenyans go to the polls again and, if something isn’t done to hold the perpetrators of the 2007 post-elctoral violence to account, the country could quite literally explode.

When I met human rights activist Maina Kiai in Nairobi a few months ago, he was talking about “another Rwanda”. Such fears have been around ever since the mid-1990s – by 1994, when Rwandans started butchering each other, Kenyans were already misbehaving at the polls. And perhaps such fears for 2012 are unfounded. But, even if it isn’t “another Rwanda”, things will certainly be messy.

That is why Moreno-Ocampo, who is still searching for a way to leave his stamp on international justice before his term expires in a couple of years, wants to bring somebody to bare for the 2007 election – so that it never happens again.

But there are already some signs that Moreno-Ocampo’s Kenya strategy is destined for failure at the hands of the wiley politicians that run the country. Because, although the names of those being investigated have not been released, it seems certain that a number of those in government will be implicated.

And, of course, many of those in government now want the chance to contest the elections in 2012. William Ruto, a wealthy landowner from the east, has particularly high aspirations – and many people are laying good odds on him being one of the people on the list.

Here is a very good article about the likeliest outcome of the ICC investigation, which should conclude in the next month or so. Basically, it seems likely that Moreno-Ocampo isn’t going to indict anyone for crimes against humanity. Rather, he is going to “invite” the alleged perpetrators to The Hague to answer for their crimes.

Aside from the fact that Moreno-Ocampo seems to have been diplomatically disingenuous, by revealing his plans to a member of the government that may or may not be close to the violence, the news is worrying for another reason.

I’m sure that, for Moreno-Ocampo, this probably seems the best choice, since many of those supposed villains are not actually in the power-sharing government. And, if Moreno-Ocampo irritates the government too much, then his investigators will lose all access that they need to do their job. It’s a fine balancing act and points to one of the biggest problems with the ICC.

But, as I’ve noted elsewhere, the Kenyan government is cunning and could easily frustrate Moreno-Ocampo until the 2012 elections, by which time it will be too late.

The laudable reason that Moreno-Ocampo wants to act now (i.e., this year), as he has made abundantly clear, is to prevent a repeat of the 2007 violence. But if he tip-toes softly around the issue, then he is in great danger of playing into the hands of the government, which is a complete insult to the victims that the ICC should be fighting for.

The likes of William Ruto want to stand in the next election. And they’re not going to do that by having their name dragged through the ICC. This is one “invitation” that the dignatories in State House might prefer to decline.

Here’s a couple of opinion pieces a colleague of mine wrote that show the cunning games the government plays:

Kenyan Cooperation Crucial to ICC Probe
Questions Over Kenya’s ICC Commitment


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One Response to “LMO should tread carefully”

  1. William Ruto « Blake Evans-Pritchard’s Weblog Says:

    […] Blake Evans-Pritchard’s Weblog Blake Evans-Pritchard’s Sudan blog « LMO should tread carefully […]

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