“Ocampo Six” Return to Kenya

On Thursday and Friday of last week, six Kenyans appeared in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has charged these men with fomenting post-election violence in 2007-2008. The legal proceedings will continue for some time, but for now the “Ocampo Six” (so named for the ICC’s chief prosecutor) are back home. One of the first steps two of the suspects, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and suspended minister William Ruto, took yesterday was to headline a rally. The tone of this event contrasted with earlier events, but the rally still underscored how politicized the trial has become in Kenya.


Before attending the ICC hearing, Kenyatta, who is also deputy prime minister, and Ruto had criss-crossed Kenya holding raucous rallies calling for their cases to be held in Kenya. They accused their political rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, of implicating them.

The ICC barred the suspects from making “dangerous speeches” to incite violence or they would face arrest. Kenyatta and Ruto took a conciliatory stance in their speeches at the rally, a far cry from their comments before their ICC appearance.

The ICC can take heart from Kenyatta and Ruto’s new tone. But one question that came to my mind was whether the politicization of the trial – or the outcome – could negatively affect Kenya’s 2012 elections, in which Kenyatta may be a leading candidate. Legal proceedings, after all, are not isolated from politics, especially in this case. And Kenya remains divided:

Kenyans thronged to the rally by bus and on foot. Police estimated the crowd at about 35,000.

“If the cases are confirmed and go ahead at The Hague, there could be big problems. Without Uhuru, we won’t have elections,” said a Kenyatta supporter, John Waweru, 30.

Despite the heroes’ welcome from supporters, most of the east African country’s 40 million people backed an ICC hearing, while support for the case to be heard at a local tribunal had dropped since a previous survey in December, according to a poll published last week.

“Tuko Pamoja!” (We are together), said one placard; “Uhuru for president in 2012” said a slogan emblazoned on the torso of one shirtless supporter who had painted his body white.

The return of Kenyatta and Ruto has already prompted some violence, as NTV Kenya reports:

5 thoughts on ““Ocampo Six” Return to Kenya

  1. Pingback: Open letter to Hon. Leshoomo: Leshoomo’s position on the Ocampo 6. | Diaspora Kenyan

  2. Yes, the ICC cases from the 2007-08 post-election are very much intertwined with the campaign for the 2012 presidency and parliament (including the new senate and county governments). Kenya’s politicians are already very much focused on the 2012 elections.

    A big question now is acting quickly to pass legislation needed to implement provisions of the new constitution, appointment of a new Chief Justice and Attorney General and establishment of the permanent electoral commission. In the meantime, we won’t know until at least September whether ICC trials will go forward. If so, they will lead into calendar 2012. The defendants representing the two sides in the 2007 race are now aligned against Odinga, the opposition candidate from 2007 and Prime Minister by virtue of the “power sharing” settlement to broker stability after the election. Yesterday, a longstanding corruption case against defendant William Ruto was thrown out pre-tial by a court in Nairobi. This case was the basis on which he had been forced to step down as cabinet minister and thus he could theoretically be brought back into the cabinet pre-election.

    Under the new constitution, ministers under criminal indictment are required to step aside–and would not be eligible for election in 2012–but the president has taken the position that this did not apply to the earlier stages of the ICC process and enforcement is unclear now that indictments have been confirmed.

    Quite a stew.

  3. Pingback: Come Back « fbownz

  4. Pingback: Open letter to Hon. Leshoomo: Leshoomo's position on the Ocampo 6. | TMC- The Maasaiwarrior Cooperation.

  5. Pingback: Kenya: The ICC’s “Ocampo Six” Case Moves Forward, Setting Stage for Tensions | Sahel Blog

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