By THE COUNTIES TEAM for Standard Newspaper.
President Uhuru appears set to do all he can, buoyed by power of his office, to defer or even stop international crimes charges facing him and his deputy at The Hague.
The determination by the President came out last week when Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, who is leading the diplomatic effort by Kenya through the African Union to defer the cases, declared: â€œIn countries that are considered more advanced than ours, it is clear that presidents are not hauled before the courts and that in many cases, the courts have to wait for their day after the president leaves office. That has been true for many presidents in the Northâ€.
Uhuruâ€™s determination to defer the cases, through AU petition with the United Nations, is also taking a stronger and more strategic approach than his predecessorâ€™s â€˜shuttle diplomacyâ€™ spearheaded by former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
Unlike Kibaki who wielded the instruments of power but was not personally linked to the charges, Uhuru is not only the ruler of Kenya but also one of the three suspects, with the second in prominence being his deputy William Ruto.
Behind Uhuru and Ruto are politicians and technocrats helping refine and drive the strategy against ICC, with the most vocal being the Foreign Cabinet Secretary.
Amina who was an Assistant Director General of the United Nations, a step away from the top position of the global body, resigned from her job earlier in the year to join the Jubilee Cabinet.
Her vantage position at UN and international circles is being used as an â€˜assetâ€™ by the President and his deputy. She is also familiar with government procedures having previously worked as a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice.
Last week, Mohammed took her efforts a step further when she travelled to Prague to meet the Foreign ministers of the US, UK, China, Russia and France to try and convince them to support a request for deferral Kenya presented to UN Security Council. The Kenyan request came after AU rallied behind Uhuru and Ruto and issued a resolution asking ICC not to try sitting heads of state.
A source within government revealed Mohammed has the responsibility of convincing the world to support Kenyaâ€™s position. â€œAdvice can come from many sources but articulation of the Governmentâ€™s position has been left to the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs,â€ said the source.
The governmentâ€™s decision to reorganise official communication strategies is also said to have contributed to the governmentâ€™s policy to deal with the ICC.
â€œAll government communications are now coordinated by the Strategic Presidential Communications Unit headed by the Communications Secretary Manoah Esipisu. That is why there is no conflict in communication regarding issues like the ICC,â€ added our source.
The removal of Mr Francis Kimemia as head of Civil Service is reported to have been precipitated by controversy created by conflicting information regarding the Westgate Mall terror attacks. That could be an indication that Jubilee government sees management of information as crucial.
The government source that spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of ICC-related issues in Jubilee administration, explained all political arguments to fight the cases at The Hague are to be presented to the world by Amb Mohammed while the legal issues as far as government is concerned have been left to Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai.
During the last months of the Kibaki-Raila Grand Coalition, Githu was among those who were against Kalonzoâ€™s shuttle diplomacy. But sources say he was only voicing his concerns because he knew it was an effort in futility. Surprisingly, Kalonzo is now against the governmentâ€™s bid to stop the cases, a course he was so passionate about when he was the VP. Githu has filed many applications on behalf of government to ICC though the judges have always been quick to deny his requests.
Besides these two technocrats, a group of politicians have also played a big role in drumming up political support for the tough stance Uhuru has adopted.
The leaders of majority in both the Senate and Parliament have rallied support of members to back the move to withdraw from the Rome Statute.
Parliamentâ€™s leader of majority Aden Duale has been instrumental in shaping the approach the government has adopted towards the ICC. Long before the AU meeting where Uhuru laid bare his frustration with the ICC, Duale had moved a motion seeking to repeal the law that domesticated the Rome Statute.
Many then argued that the move by Parliament was going to complicate the relationship between ICC and Jubilee leaders. But it is now emerging Dualeâ€™s move was part of the bigger game plan by Africa to aid Uhuru by threatening mass withdrawal from the international court.
The decision by AU last week has given more impetus to the push by leaders like Duale to collapse the cases facing Uhuru and Ruto.
Other leaders including leader of the majority in the Senate Dr Kithure Kindiki, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, and the Presidentâ€™s political advisor Joshua Kuttuny have also been part of the force that does not want Uhuru to attend trials at The Hague.
The group argues the Head of State could not be tried in a foreign land. â€œIt is now clear that our earlier fears that ICC did not carry out credible investigations and is out to fix innocent people as demonstrated by a warrant against journalist Walter Barasa,â€ Kuttuny said.
Kindiki said it was â€œdegrading and history in the makingâ€ for a sitting president and his deputy to be arraigned in a court on â€œfake and a half-baked investigationsâ€.
The Senator, who was once part of the defense team at the ICC– representing Ruto, said the President should manage the affairs of the nation and leave ICC for another day. â€œWe are in a very challenging situation when the security of our nation is at stake. We have to leave our President to take care of all this. ICC is secondary,â€ said nominated Senator Liz Chelule.
Meru Women MP Florence Kajuju said if the president presented himself at the ICC he would portray the image of a â€œprisoner â€œyet he was elected democratically by Kenyans. â€œThere is no need for the Commander-in-Chief to go to ICC and be called a criminal. Kenya is a sovereign state that can handle its matters since it has a reformed Judiciary,â€ she said.
She said the ICC judges should heed Uhuruâ€™s and the African Union pleas to have the cases deferred.
Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto, Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery and Jubilee Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja also pushed for the president not to appear before ICC.
Baringo County Speaker William Kamket petitioned the High Court in Nakuru to bar the President from leaving for The Hague.