Justice for Kenya – Kofi Annan

9 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory

GENEVA — ON Tuesday, the eyes of Kenya will be firmly fixed on The Hague, where the trial of the country’s deputy president, William Ruto, and his co-defendant, Joshua arap Sang, an influential radio executive, is set to begin before the International Criminal Court. They have been charged with crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that rocked Kenya in late 2007 and early 2008. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, will face similar charges in a related case set for trial in November.

As the world reels from atrocities committed in Syria and Egypt, it may be easy to forget that nearly six years ago, it was Kenya that was on fire. In the wake of a contested election result, mobs killed and raped, and torched homes and businesses. Police officers shot hundreds of unarmed protesters. At least 1,100 people died, many more were injured and 600,000 were displaced from their homes.

But Kenyans have not forgotten. Nor have those who intervened to support them in their time of need.

In 2008, I was appointed chairman of the African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities and mediated an agreement to end the crisis. I arrived in Nairobi as the violence was intensifying, prompting fears that the country could ignite into civil war. The first aim of the mediation was to stop the violence, which it did. Recognizing the complex roots of the conflict, the agreement also called for establishing responsibility for the crimes committed and for constitutional, electoral and security-sector reforms, so that the cycle of violence would not be repeated.

One concrete outcome was the Waki commission, a national inquiry into the postelection violence. It concluded that the violence was not just spontaneous, but, in at least some areas, a result of planning and organization, often with the involvement of politicians and businessmen. This was not surprising — politicians hungry for power have long exploited Kenya’s ethnic divisions with impunity.

Read the full article on the New York Times

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