Political tensions rise in Kenya ahead of ICC indictments

Kenya’s Cabinet met today to consider the crisis presented by key members of the coalition government being named Wednesday in the Hague when prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo seeks six indictments for alleged primary actors in 2008 Post Election Violence. Divergent views have emerged as to what was or was not agreed to, raising questions as to the extent to which the ICC will obtain the promised cooperation of the government. The Presidential Press Service released a statement saying that the cabinet has now agreed to moving forward to create a “local tribunal” in Kenya to prosecute Post Election Violence cases. The ICC prosecutions were eventually initiated after Parliament voted down previous proposals for such a tribunal.

This is the report from the Standard, titled “Fresh Plan to Block Ocampo”:

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President Kibaki and his Party of National Unity (PNU) now want suspects identified locally and by the International Criminal Court to be tried by a local tribunal. The move has left Prime Minister Raila Odinga and ODM in a quandary just a day after the PM and Kibaki appeared united in condemning US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger.

The PNU plan is banking on support from rebel ODM legislators from the Rift Valley opposed to Raila, but allied to Eldoret North MP William Ruto, to drum up support for the plan in and outside Parliament.

Raila and MPs allied to him are opposed to the plan, noting that the same MPs voted against a local tribunal to try the suspects in February, 2009, but have lately been outspoken in condemning International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, claiming his investigation is one-sided and targets certain communities.

They say the ICC process should be allowed to run its course since Kenyans’ trust in the local judicial system is severely lacking.

But it is the shock decision by Kibaki, who appeared to go back on his promise to mediator Kofi Annan that the Government would support the ICC probe, which is bound to keep analysts busy for the rest of this week.

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The EU released a statement saying that they do not expect violence in the wake of Ocampo’s naming of suspects Wednesday.

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