Kenyan Presidential election front-runner Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday faced an upsurge in opposition to his bid, a day before a hearing on his pending trial over the crimes against humanity linked to the 2008 post-election violence.
Kenyatta, the Presidential candidate of The National Alliance (TNA), rated as a potential winner of the Presidential election slated for 4 March, is expected to face the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial bench in April over crimes against humanity charges.
But his presidential bid is becoming increasingly contentious amongst the various local, international diplomats, local church groups and civil society groups.
Martha Karua, who is challenging Kenyatta and six other candidates for the post, said during a recent Presidential debate that Kenyatta’s continued stay in the race was “a display of impunity”.
“The ICC charges were framed…as a country; we have laws that require such a campaign to be suspended because even if elected, anybody can move to court to challenge your election,” Karua said.
Protestant church leaders said in Nairobi Wednesday that the pair, including Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto, would face difficulty managing a government during their trial.
The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Secretary-General Peter Karanja said it would be much harder for the duo to run a government while undergoing trial should they win the polls.
Kenyan foreign minister Sam Ongeri, of Kenyatta’s party, summoned European Union diplomats to his office this week to explain their statements that there would be consequences should the Kenyan electorate choose anybody accused of crimes against humanity.
“The EU and US public positions on limiting contacts with ICC accused persons is consistent with the Constitution of Kenya 2010, African Union (AU) Constitutive Act 2000 and African Union(AU) Panel of the Wise Report February 2013,” said Ndung’u Wainaina, the Executive Director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict.
“The insincere discordant voices coming from the government of Kenya and certain political quarters amount to casting aspersions on the legitimacy of the Constitution of Kenya. These dishonest political voices fly in the face of majority of Kenyans collective voice and desire to confront and wipe out the scourge of impunity,” Wainaina charged.
Kenyatta said opposition to his candidacy for the Kenyan polls were misplaced because the ICC had not found him guilty of the crimes. “We will follow the due process and clear our name…the ICC issue is a personal challenge and everybody has a personal challenge.”
“Kenya as a State has been unable to generate the prerequisite political will to prevent recurrence and widening of the gap and cycle of impunity and creating meaningful mechanisms that promote the rule of law, restrain abuse of power and expand constitutionalism,” the think-tank said in a statement.
Wainaina said it was important for the Government to deepen and demonstrate genuine commitment to mechanisms mitigating impunity.