Kenya ex-minister meets ICC over election clashes

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Kenya’s suspended higher education minister, William Ruto, said he would issue a formal statement to the International Criminal Court in The Hague about the violence that followed the 2007 election.

Speaking in the Dutch city on Thursday, Ruto said he met the ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and the two would have another meeting on Friday.
“There are no issues. We cleared the preliminary issues. We will be back tomorrow to make a formal statement and we will proceed from there,” Ruto told Reuters outside the court.

Ruto, who left Kenya late on Wednesday, was quoted by local media as saying he wanted to give his version of events to the ICC, which is investigating the deadly post-election violence, in which about 1,300 people were killed.

He was suspended last month over fraud allegations that he has denied, and will stand trial in Kenya starting late January.

Moreno-Ocampo’s office did not respond to requests for a comment.

The ICC has not yet formally identified any key suspects. The state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said senior cabinet ministers were architects of the fighting, including Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto.

Kenyan judges blocked an attempt by Kenyatta to remove his name from the report. A similar case lodged by Ruto is ongoing.

Moreno-Ocampo has previously said he aims to issue arrest warrants against the masterminds of the killings and complete confirmation hearings by the end of 2011, with trials to start in 2012, when Kenya’s next elections are due.

AN EXAMPLE

Political analysts say any arrest warrants against cabinet ministers could widen rifts in the coalition government of President Mwai Kibaki in east Africa’s biggest economy and lead to unrest in the suspects’ communities.
“I asked for an appointment with Ocampo and his group so that we can set the record straight and get to the truth and I’m happy that they gave me the appointment,” Ruto told reporters at Nairobi airport as he left for the Netherlands.

Kenya’s government officials hailed the move and said it set an example for others who may be under investigation.
“The prime minister has taken it (Ruto’s trip) as a personal decision. Ruto probably feels he has a personal statement to make and the PM has no problem with that,” Dennis Onyango, spokesman for the prime minister’s office, told Reuters.
“I welcome his interest to co-operate with The Hague because after all the government is committed under the Rome Statute and our International Crimes Act to co-operate with Mr. Ocampo,” Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo told Reuters.

Many Kenyans are hopeful any arrests and convictions will act as a deterrent against a repeat of violence at the next elections.

The bloodshed began after opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who is now Kenya’s prime minister, accused the incumbent Kibaki of stealing the 2007 election. At the time, Ruto was a close ally of Odinga’s, but the two have since fallen out.



A power-sharing deal brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in late February 2008 stopped the bloodshed and created Kenya’s first coalition government, with Odinga in the post of prime minister.