Kenyatta Becomes First President to Appear at ICC

Kenyatta Becomes First President to Appear at ICCKenyatta Becomes First President to Appear at ICC

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared before the International Criminal Court at The Hague Wednesday, becoming the first sitting head of state to appear before the court, where he faces crimes of humanity charges.

There were chaotic scenes at The Hague Wednesday morning as Kenyatta, wearing a charcoal suit and white shirt, made his way into the heavily-guarded ICC building without addressing his supporters or the press.

Demonstrators outside the building, some of them wearing the colors of the Kenyan flag, carried posters supporting the powerful Kenyan president. “Hands off our prez,” read one large banner in red.

The Kenyan president faces crimes against humanity charges over allegations that he helped instigate the violence that followed Kenya’s December 2007 presidential election, which killed more than 1,000 people.

According to FRANCE 24’s correspondents in The Hague the prosecution has repeatedly said it was not provided the necessary evidence to go to trial. “It has been notably blaming Kenya for the lack of evidence,” Irvine explained.

The prosecution has asked for Kenyatta’s phone and bank records over a three-year period, documents, it says, is necessary to prove Kenyatta’s role in orchestrating and bankrolling the post-election violence, which it says has not been furnished to the court authorities.

At least seven prosecution witnesses have withdrawn from the case amid prosecution allegations of intimidation and bribery.

Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, was listed on the Forbes list of Africa’s 40 wealthiest people. His family has vast landholdings across Kenya and a variety of businesses.

The 52-year-old Kenyan president faces five counts of crimes of humanity charges. Shortly before travelling to The Hague, Kenyatta handed power to his deputy, William Ruto, who also faces crimes against humanity charges in the post-election violence case.

Both Kenyatta and Ruto deny any involvement in the unrest which was fought along ethnic lines and sparked the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

Kenya is the second African nation after Sudan to have a sitting president facing charges at the ICC. But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has shunned the ICC warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes.

 ICC’s Alleged Africa Bias

The ICC case has sparked harsh criticism among Kenyatta’s supporters who accuse the court ofunfairly focusing on cases from Africa.

The Kenyan parliament voted in September to withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction. But the withdrawal process involves lengthy procedures including a formal notification to the United Nations.

The brutal violence following the 2007 poll, which was disputed by opposition leader Raila Odinga, shattered Kenya’s image as a beacon of East African stability.

Kenyatta and Ruto, rivals in 2007, ran together in the 2013 elections for the presidency, beating Odinga by a narrow margin.