Kenyan presidential contenders face legal fight over 2008 violence

Political allies signed electoral pact in what is seen as an attempt to avoid trial at The Hague

A civil rights group in Kenya has launched a legal bid to prevent two leading politicians who are facing trial at The Hague from standing in presidential elections due next March.

Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding president, and William Ruto, a former minister, signed an electoral pact at the weekend in what is seen as an attempt to avoid a trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), due to start a month after the East African nation goes to the polls.

Kenyan-based pressure group, the International Centre for Policy and Conflict, persuaded a local court to hear a challenge to the pair’s right to stand on the grounds that they have been indicted by the ICC for inciting the violence that followed Kenya’s last election almost five years ago. An attempt to bar them from running was thrown out by another court last week.

Should the duo succeed in winning the vote and then refuse to stand trial – they are running second and third in recent opinion polls – East Africa’s largest economy could face sanctions by the UN Security Council.

The Kenyatta-Ruto alliance brings together the two alleged ringleaders of the warring sides in post-election violence which saw 1,500 people killed and hundreds of thousands of Kenyans displaced from their homes in early 2008. The pair were bitter rivals at the previous vote but have put that aside now that they face war crimes charges. Mr Kenyatta, a former Deputy Prime Minister, will lead the ticket, with Mr Ruto running as vice-presidential candidate. Their main opponent is Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was denied the presidency last time amid hotly contested results that sparked intercommunal violence.

With Kenya on the brink of civil war between ethnic communities, Mr Odinga eventually joined a unity government with his opponent Mwai Kibaki, who is standing down after two terms as president. 

Mr Kenyatta comes from Kenya’s largest ethnic group, the Kikuyus, while Mr Ruto commands the loyalty of the Kalenjin – an amalgam of several tribes whose political power base is in the Rift Valley.

Their willingness to exploit tribal divisions has raised fears of a re-run of the chaos that followed the last election.

“We have agreed we are uniting on behalf of the people of Kenya. Our alliance is not for fighting anyone. We are uniting for the sake of the people of Kenya,” Mr Kenyatta told a rally on Sunday, arranged to make the political marriage official. Both men have invested heavily in portraying the ICC as a threat to Kenya’s sovereignty: “To our foreign friends, I would like to say this: we are willing to work with all, but we also demand our respect as citizens of this republic.”

While both candidates have strong support within their own communities, they have been widely criticised by rights groups in Kenya, where as many as 150,000 people are still living in camps for the displaced after the last crisis.

Local political commentator Makau Mutua called the alliance “nonsense on stilts” and said that their real objective was to retain power.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
music
News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher- Manchester

£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Secondary Japanese Teacher, January 2015 - China

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Secondary Japanese TeacherRequ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes