Kenyans seek eligibility of two presidential running mates

By IndepthAfrica
In East Africa
Dec 3rd, 2012

NAIROBI — Kenyan activists submitted a fresh appeal Monday petitioning for a court ruling on the eligibility of two presidential running mates charged with crimes against humanity over election violence five years ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, and his deputy, ex-minister William Ruto, 45, must stand trial at International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in 2007-8 post-election unrest that killed at least 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000.

“We want to make sure the court is compelled to make a ruling on the issue of integrity of the aspirants,” said lawyer Lempaa Suiyanka, representing an informal coalition of civil society groups.

An earlier petition was unexpectedly withdrawn last week, which lawyer Ambrose Weda said was “tactical”, without giving a further explanation.

Under a new constitution adopted in 2010, those holding public office and charged with a crime must step down.

Kenyatta and Ruto are former rivals who plan to run as allies in next year’s presidential election, the first since deadly post-election violence in 2007-2008.

But although the case has been resubmitted, little time is left before the polls as presidential campaigns have already begun.

The ICC trials, set to begin on April 10, could coincide with the elections, which are set for March 4, but are potentially expected to enter a second round vote within a month.

Kenyatta faces five charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution, deportation and other inhumane acts.

Ruto faces three charges of crimes against humanity.

Both have proclaimed their innocence, remain free and have promised to cooperate with the court.

Hearing of the fresh petition begins Wednesday.

Kenya, as a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, would be forced to act on any arrest warrant issued by the court should the pair refuse to attend trial.AFP

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