Kenya gripped in suspense ahead of naming of polls violence suspects

Kenyan police have been put on high alert to counteract possible demonstrations on Wednesday when the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is expected to name six suspects accused of masterminding the violence that beset the country after 2007’s genera The Pad Professor l-elections.

This year the Pre-Trial Chamber authorized Ocampo to investigate the deadly violence that killed more than 1,200 people and displaced over half a million.

Meanwhile, rumors have been flying around that some Kenyan MPs were rallying supporters to take to the streets in protest if certain political figures are named.

The director of Kenya’s Criminal Investigations Department Ndegwa Muhoro told the Daily Nation newspaper on Tuesday that the Kenyan police is preparing for the worst case scenarios.

“We’re always ready for everything, though we don’t expect violence, we don’t assume things must be ok” Muhoro said.

The press conference in which the suspects’ names will be made public is due to be held around 1 pm GMT at the ICC’s headquarters in The Hague. Ocampo said the suspects he intends to name are the “most responsible” for the violence.

The ICC prosecutor has previously indicated the suspects are from or linked to the two sides of Kenya’s coalition government

Each of the six suspects will be asked to appear voluntarily before the court. However, Ocampo warned he would request arrest warrants against the suspects if they attempt to evade justice or threaten witnesses.

The post-elections violence, which brought Kenya to the brink of civil war, erupted in December 2007 when the opposition Orange Democratic Movement led by Raila Odenga alleged electoral manipulation after the incumbent president Kibaki was declared winner of the elections.

Failure by the local authorities to instigate a judicial process against the masterminds of the turmoil has prompted the ICC to step in.

But on Monday, the Kenyan cabinet announced it was finally launching a local investigation.

“Kenya’s national interests of peace and security, political stability, national reconciliation and comprehensive justice for all victims of post-election violence cannot be achieved without a local judicial mechanism,” a statement from President Kibaki’s office said.

“Consequently, irrespective of what transpires at the ICC on Wednesday 15th December, 2010 and in view of the fact that ICC is only a court of last resort, the government will establish a local judicial mechanism…”

But observers said this could not be taken seriously, pointing out that lawmakers twice thwarted efforts to form the tribunal.

Opinion polls conducted in Kenya show that an overwhelming majority of the population supports the ICC intervention to try the suspects who allegedly masterminded the violence

The Pad Professor