William Ruto

No sooner had I blogged about the need for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be careful when it comes to Kenya, then it emerges that William Ruto, the former education minister who was sacked for (ach-hem!) corruption, had already booked a flight over to The Hague to meet with officials from the Office of the Prosecutor.

I spent some time trying to catch up with Ruto, but didn’t manage it. To be fair I didn’t try particularly hard. I’ve been trying to interview him for some months, but I rather get the impression that he doesn’t really want to speak to me.

Having tried and failed to speak to Ruto, I decided to give the press office of the ICC a quick call. I presumed that they at least could tell me why Ruto was here, even if it what they told me turned out to be superficial waffle. But no. I should have known better. In typical ICC fashion, nobody in the press office returned my calls or responded to my emails. I tried for a week and then, this evening, I finally decided to give up.

This says a lot about the dreadful media management of the ICC. If they are faced with a potentially difficult subject, their somewhat unprofessional approach is simply to ignore the problem and hope that it will go away. Instead of speaking to journalists and opting for damage limitation, they ignore them.

And I wasn’t the only one they ignored. Other journalists, I saw, had to end their articles with that dreadful line: “The ICC did not respond to invitations for comment”.

Because, obviously, Ruto’s visit to The Hague lends credence to the theory that Luis Moreno-Ocampo is about to be hoodwinked by State House; and the ICC does absolutely nothing to dispell this idea.

Of course, such a suggestion is overly-simplistic. I like to think that those within the Office of the Prosecutor have some professional competence. They are not about to be swayed by the visit of one young upstart.

Yet one must not ignore the fact that Ruto is going to be an exceedingly important player in the run-up to the 2012 election. He has made his political ambitions abundently clear and he has considerable support within the country by people that view him as an answer to the Kikuyu-dominated government.

Unlike President Mwai Kibaki, Ruto is not a Kikuyu. He is a Kalenjin – the same tribe as Daniel arap Moi, Kibaki’s predecessor, came from.

In the east of the country, people are angry that the 2007 election was aparently stolen. Angry also that Ruto was ousted from the government because he was too corrupt – when everyone knows that corruption is the ordre du jour in Kenya. And downright furious of any suggestion that the ICC is about to wade in and take their man from them.

Of course, Ruto doesn’t command everyone’s support in the east – few Kikuyus are likely to vote for him. But he perhaps commands enough support to cause some waves in the 2012 election.

And that is why he is important.

The only thing that is getting in his way is the possibility that he may be summoned to The Hague to answer charges of inciting violence against his countrymen. This would not look good. So he came to The Hague to clear his name.

It is still not known whether he actually achieved an audience with Moreno-Ocampo, but I suspect not. One piece I read suggested he was kept waiting for an unduly long time before he was seen. Then, when he stepped off the plane in Nairobi, he told journalists there, enigmatically, “As to whether I went to the ICC to meet a taxi operator, that is for you to decide.”

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One Response to “William Ruto”

  1. A failure of communication « Blake Evans-Pritchard’s Weblog Says:

    […] sorry to repeat the point that I made in a previous blog entry, but it is utterly disgraceful that the ICC was unable to give more information about the visit of […]

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