Tag Archives: Presidential Campaign

Statesmanship- A Role Model for Kenyatta and Ruto

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.

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Can one run for the Presidency while on trial at the ICC?

A lot of ink has been spilt on the provisions of the new Constitution, especially Chapter Six and its Integrity standards, and whether this bars the ICC suspects from standing as Presidential candidates in the elections next year.

I won’t comment on the Chapter Six issue because the matter is pending in court (eish, and the judges are taking their time!). But an interesting dimension is the practicality of (a) running for President while on trial and (b) if elected, running the government while on trial- especially if the presence of the defendant is required for a prolonged period at the Hague. One defendant, William Ruto has already suggested that he could use ICT to run his campaign/the country while in the Netherlands. It’s an innovative approach to delegated leadership, we wait to see if the courts in Kenya and the Netherlands will give him the opportunity to try it out. Of course, one could ask what would happen to Ruto’s wireless government if, as sometimes happens, someone/something cuts the faiba link.

One defendant, Jean Pierre Bemba has already blazed the path in seeking to be a Presidential Candidate while on trial. Bemba is a Congolese citizen on trial for allegedly committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in the neighbouring Central African Republic. However, unlike the Kenyan defendants, he is in custody in the Netherlands. Therefore, he needed to seek provisional release (in mid-2011) to go to the DRC and register as a voter and as a presidential candidate. DRC law requires candidates to present their papers in person. The past practice in Kenya was that candidates also presented their papers in person; it’s unclear whether this will continue in the 2013 election. The Elections Act only require that the person be nominated under his/her party rules and that the party certify the nomination to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The candidate also needs to give IEBC a specimen signature. So theoretically, this dispenses with personal appearance at the IEBC to present nomination papers as long as IEBC has a specimen signature. But as anyone who has dealt with Kenyan bureaucracy knows, theory and practice can be different planets orbiting in opposite directions.

Back to Bemba: unfortunately for him, the court refused to release him. Though he appealed, he subsequently missed the deadlines for registration for the DRC elections. The test that the court employed in denying him provisional release was a balancing test between his interest in civic participation in the election and the risk of his absconding while out of custody. Food for thought for the Kenyan defendants who are floating free right now?

Following the Hague trials of 4 Kenyans to the end. A blog by Archie Nyarango

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