At the moment, a total of four prominent Kenyans, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, will go to trial at the International Criminal Court over their alleged roles orchestrating the country’s post-election violence four years ago, judges ruled.
Everyone of them faces charges including being indirectly responsible for murder, rape, forcible displacement of civilians and crimes against humanity that prosecutors said were committed during weeks of clashes that killed 1,300 people.
The highest profile of the four men are Uhuru Kenyatta, the country’s finance minister and deputy prime minister, and William Ruto, the former higher education minister.
Both have said that they plan to run for president in Kenya’s next elections, due by March next year.
Mr Ruto immediately said that he was still in the running despite the International Criminal Court’s ruling, delivered in The Hague on Monday.
Mr Kenyatta has indicated he will also still stand.
“This is the problem we face, they will use the stand at The Hague to campaign and gather support,” said Josphat Makundi, a pharmacist in Nakuru, a town in Kenya’s Rift Valley two hours west of Nairobi which saw some of the worst of the 2007-8 violence.
Both Mr Kenyatta – from Kenya’s dominant Kikuyu tribe – and Mr Ruto – a Kalenjin – enjoy significant support from rural Kenyans living in each of their political heartlands.
There were concerns that the ICC’s ruling would provoke demonstrations protesting against the charges.
“We Kenyans cannot be fighting about this, it is no surprise to most of us truly in our hearts,” said Steven Gichaba, a civil servant watching the hearings in a Nakuru pub at lunchtime yesterday.
“All that has happened today is the judges have confirmed what we already knew, that there is hard evidence, and these men have a case to answer.” Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, had originally charged six men, but the three-judge panel ruled that there was not enough evidence to confirm charges against Hussein Ali, the former police chief, and Henry Kosgey, a junior minister.