Kenya ICC: Kenyatta and Muthaura 'won't be sacked'

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Uhuru Kenyatta has presidential ambitions

Kenya's deputy prime minister and civil service head will not have to resign despite a ruling that they will face trial for crimes against humanity.

The attorney general said their future would be decided after the outcome of their appeal to stop the International Criminal Court trial from going ahead.

Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura are among four prominent Kenyans the ICC confirmed on Monday would stand trial.

All four deny their roles in the post-election violence of 2007-2008.

Mr Kenyatta, son of Kenya's founding President Jomo Kenyatta and a man who has been ranked as one of its richest citizens, and Mr Muthaura are accused of crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.

The pair are allies of President Mwai Kibaki, who appealed for people to stay calm after the ICC ruling confirming the charges.

More than 1,200 people were killed in weeks of unrest between December 2007 and February 2008 and some 600,000 people were forced to flee their homes. Many still remain homeless.

The violence began as clashes between supporters of the two rival presidential candidates - Raila Odinga and Mr Kibaki - but it snowballed into a bloody round of score-settling and communal violence.

Former Education Minister William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang, who opposed Mr Kibaki in 2007, are also to stand trial in a separate case.

Beyond reproach?

Some human rights groups have been calling for Mr Kenyatta, who also serves as the country's finance minister, and Mr Muthaura, the cabinet secretary, to resign.

"The suspects are appearing in their individual capacity. The government cannot speak on their behalf on what to do and what not to do," Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper quotes Attorney General Githu Muigai as saying.

He said the government would make a decision on whether the two should step aside after the appeals process was over.

The BBC's Caroline Karobia in the capital, Nairobi, says the suspects are allowed to appeal but ICC rules do not guarantee that their request is heard.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto both have presidential ambitions - but it is not clear if the laws of Kenya will allow them to run in the polls due next year, she says.

Kenya's new constitution says holders of public office should be beyond reproach as far as ethics are concerned and rights groups are preparing to go to court to get an interpretation to see if this should include those facing trial.

Kenya's government has been lobbying for the cases to be dropped - a position endorsed last year by the African Union.

Mr Muigai also unveiled a team of legal experts who will advise the government on the ruling by the ICC judges.

On Monday, the ICC judges did not confirm the charges against former Industry Minister Henry Kosgey or former police chief Hussein Ali.

The ICC's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has said he will not appeal against this decision, but will continue to investigate the two and will present any new evidence he finds against them to the court's pre-trial chamber.

Mr Kibaki was eventually declared the winner of the 2007 election, and is serving his second and final term as president.

Mr Odinga was installed as prime minister under a power-sharing deal brokered by Kofi Annan to end the violence.

Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga have since fallen out and are expected to face each in the elections.

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