By now, it’s been widely reported that William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta are teaming up in the coming election. It was telescoped long ago and dubbed the coalition of the accused. Strangely, the fact that two individuals awaiting trial for crimes against humanity can run and coordinate an election campaign is being held up by their supporters as a vindication of Kenyans’ sovereign freedom of choice.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, the two are innocent until proven guilty. Unless and until this presumption is overturned in a court of law, they retain all their civic rights and responsibilities (as consistent with the law). These rights include the right to run for office- unless a court of law determines that Chapter Six of the constitution bars them. But in all other respects these two politicians have as much right as the rest of the field of candidates to be in the game. Quite clearly, it is also in their private and personal interest to be successful candidates in next year’s elections.
It is the failure to distinguish between the public interest 40 million and the personal interests of 2 that taints their election campaign. Perhaps they should look to the example set by Ramush Haradinaj.
The name may not be familiar to many but he is a former Prime Minister of Kosovo who was recently acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia with respect to war crimes allegedly committed during the war between the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Serbian Security forces. In fact he was only Prime Minister for several months before he was indicted.
What did Haradinaj do when he received the indictment? Five days after the indictment was handed down, he voluntarily resigned from his post and spent over seven years clearing his name. He even underwent a re-trial. This is despite knowing that his popularity among Kosovar Albanians (the majority population in Kosovo) was such that he could conceivably have refused to resign and clung on to the Premiership. Yet it was clear, and he would have known, that clinging to the position of Prime Minister while on trial for such serious crimes would have killed any hope of reconciliation with Kosovar Serbs and would have kept the old resentments of the war alive in the public imagination every time he performed any public function as Prime Minister. It wasn’t a question of the presumption of innocence, but an exercise of sound judgement that is the hallmark of any genuine leader (or candidate for leadership).
Haradinaj has his flaws as a leader, but it is only when one sees that self-sacrifice in his resignation that one understands the selfishness of the TNA-URP ticket. By the way, with his innocence newly affirmed, Ramush Haradinaj intends to jump back into politics.
The Presidency, like the Premiership, is one of those rare jobs where the learning curve is steep yet there is very little ‘pre-job’ training available for aspirants. Which is why, in continuing to run their coalition campaign, both Kenyatta and Ruto make a good case for why they should not be anywhere near power. It’s a little late in the day to teach them good judgement, and a five year term ain’t near long enough to even make a start.