Kenya election violence: Profiles of the named ICC suspects

By benim
In East Africa
Dec 15th, 2010
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The prosecutor of the international criminal court has asked judges to charge six prominent Kenyans – including the country’s deputy prime minister – with crimes against humanity for their part in violence that left more than 1,000 people dead after the disputed 2007 presidential election.

William Ruto

Kenya's former higher education minister William Ruto stands to answer corruption charges.
William Ruto. Photograph: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

Wealthy, powerful and never far from controversy, William Ruto, 44, is one of the country’s best-known politicians. He has strong support in his home Rift Valley province – scene of the worst ethnic attacks in early 2008 – but inspires widespread distaste outside. Ruto, a trained botanist, rose to prominence in 1992 as the leader of a youth movement that campaigned for President Daniel Arap Moi, also an ethnic Kalenjin, and was later accused of inciting ethnic violence. Aged just 31, Ruto was elected as an MP for Eldoret North, and served as a minister in Moi’s final government. Ahead of the 2007 poll, he joined the nascent Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) opposition party, as one of its deputy leaders and its main representative of the Rift Valley province. Though he strongly denied any role in the violence that followed the poll, Ruto was accused by the Kenyan national commission of human rights of “planning, inciting and financing” ethnic attacks, and allegedly held a meeting with other Kalenjin leaders where they resolved “to carry out mass evictions of non-Kalenjins from ‘their’ Rift Valley areas”.

ICC prosecutors described Ruto “one of the principal planners and organisers of crimes against PNU (Party of National Unity) supporters”.

Ruto served as agriculture minister and higher education minister in the coalition government until October, when he was suspended over an old corruption case. In November he flew to The Hague to meet Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, and subsequently filed an unsuccessful legal motion to stop him publishing the names of the suspects.

Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta. Photograph: Sayyid Azim/AP

As deputy prime minister and finance minister, Uhuru Kenyatta would already be one of Kenya’s best-known politicians. Add to that his status as the son of founding president Jomo Kenyatta, and an heir to one of Kenya’s richest families, and you get an idea of how far he will fall should the case against him be proved.

A political science graduate of Amherst College in the US, Kenyatta unsuccessfully ran for parliament in 1997, but was nominated as an MP in 2001. A year later he was handpicked by President Daniel Arap Moi as his successor. Though trounced in the election by Mwai Kibaki, he stayed in parliament as leader of the opposition, and backed Kibaki’s re-election campaign in 2007. According to a report by the Kenyan national commission of human rights, Kenyatta attended meetings with other ethnic Kikuyu MPs while the post-poll violence flared “to plan retaliatory attacks [by Kikuyus] in the Rift Valley. They also contributed funds and organised militia for retaliatory violence.”

The ICC prosecution team echoed these claims, saying that “during the post-election violence he helped to mobilise the Mungiki criminal organization to attack ODM supporters”.

Kenyatta asked the courts to remove his name from the commission’s report, but was unsuccessful. Before be named by Moreno-Ocampo, he was widely tipped to run for president in 2012.

Francis Muthaura

Kenya's secretary to the cabinet Francis Kirimi Muthaura addresses a news conference. Francis Muthaura. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/ReutersOften described as gatekeeper to the president, and a key member of the “Mount Kenya Mafia” that surrounds Mwai Kibaki, Francis Muthaura, 64, wields immense power in State House. A former secretary general to the East African community, and a veteran of several ambassadorship positions, Muthaura was appointed as secretary of the cabinet in 2005, and has regularly infuriated the opposition and diplomats since then with his hardline positions. He also serves as the head of the public service and chairman of the national security advisory committee. According to the ICC prosecution “he authorised the police to use excessive force against [opposition] ODM supporters and to facilitate attacks against ODM supporters”.

Henry Kosgey

Henry Kosgey speaks to journalists at a news conference.
Henry Kosgey. Photograph: Antony Njuguna/Reuters

The chairman of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, Henry Kosgey, 63, is a veteran politician who currently serves as industrialisation minister in the coalition government. His home constituency is Tinderet, in the Rift Valley province. The Kenyan national commission of human rights accused Kosgey of attending meetings to plan violence against non-Kalenjins living in his area, a charge repeated by the ICC which described him as “one of the principal planners and organisers of crimes” aimed at communities perceived to support President Kibaki.

Major-General (retired) Hussein Ali

Kenya's former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali addresses a news conference.
Hussein Ali. Photograph: Reuters

Hussein Ali, 54, was the chief of police during the election violence. A former head of one of Kenya’s paratroop battalions, he was appointed by Kibaki as commissioner of police in 2004 after more than 25 years in the military, the first ever commissioner appointed from outside the force. Under his leadership, some credited the police with becoming more effective, although they were accused of extrajudicial killings and brutality. In dealing with the protests that followed the elections, police often fired indiscriminately, and were said to have shot dead 405 people – more than third of the total number of victims of post-election violence. Ali stands accused by the ICC prosecutor of authorising excessive force by his officers, and of facilitating attacks against opposition supporters. He left the police to head up the postal corporation of Kenya last year.

Joshua Arap Sang

Joshua Arap Sang, one of six Kenyans, alleged to have masterminded the 07-08 post-election violence
Joshua Arap Sang. Photograph: ICC/AFP

The least known of all the suspects, Sang is the head of operations at Kass FM, a Kalenjin-language radio station that is very popular in Rift Valley province. During the election violence he was presenter on some morning shows, where, according to the Kenya national commission on human rights he used his position at the station to plan violence and mobilise militias. “He branded those who did not vote with the rest of the Kalenjin community traitors,” the commission said. The ICC has accused him of being “one of the principal planners and organisers of crimes” against supporters of President Kibaki’s party.

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