Immediately after the elections, in my commentaries
of April 1and April 8, I stated that the ICC cases were
now a complication for Kenya. I predicted that they
would adversely affect the new government’s foreign
and domestic policy, increase the divisions in our
country after the vicious campaigns we had just
finished, compromise the growing independence of
Kenya’s institutions, undermine implementation of
Kenya’s new constitution and affect media freedom.
Six and a half months later I wish I had been wrong.
Foreign envoys are going back to their countries
because they cannot be accredited; our judiciary is
fighting for its life; our security agencies are
competing viciously amongst themselves; and our
media is under siege. As for the constitution, the
Executive, Transition Authority, Senate, Governors
Council and Parliament cannot agree on the
implementation process; with each seeking to add to
its respective powers, in spite of the wishes of
Kenyans.
Some of these issues might not look related to the
ICC directly; but we must accept that at the very
least, it divided the attention of our national
leadership to the extent such things can happen.
Unfortunately the ICC has also muzzled the voices of
reason that would traditionally speak truth to power
on these issues.
One is Kenya’s vibrant civil society. They fell into the
trap laid by an aggressive Jubilee political campaign,
to brand any supporter of ICC as ‘enemies of Kenya’.
Today they operate from defensive positions
wherever they are, and expend their energies and
capacity justifying their support of ICC. In the
process of fighting first for themselves they no longer
fight for others, or against anything else. Civic action
against corruption, nepotism, delays in constitution
implementation, etc has died down.
The other voice is Kenya’s political opposition, which
seems to have become emasculated by Jubilee’s
well-built, emotional, anti-ICC platform. CORD is
between a rock and a hard place as they engage with
Jubilee’s message of national sovereignty and Pan-
Africanism such that when they challenge the
government, even on those rare occasions when it is
on a valid issue, they are labeled as agents of neo-
colonialism by Jubilee’s propaganda hounds. CORD
does not know how to fight this, so they have gone
quiet, on everything.
Third are Kenya’s religious leaders. Unable to match
the message of forgiveness, which resonates so well
in a country where majority are Christians, with
support for ICC, they have chosen silence. When this
is added to the internal split they have on ethnic and
political grounds, Kenya’s conscience has gone quiet
on everything else, maybe waiting to step in after
events unfold.
Fourth are members of the international community.
The days when they could hold joint press
conferences on domestic issues are long gone; at
least for as long as the ICC cases exist. Each western
country is struggling on how to engage a
government who’s democratically elected leaders are
also indicted by a court they support. This has left
their ambassadors in Kenya with no idea how to
respond to their host country; even when something
is clearly wrong. The hard stance taken by Kenyan
officials on any attempts at ‘foreign interference’ has
also made things difficult and today Kenya’s
international partners have literally been shut up, on
all fronts.
Fifth are the Media; Kenya’s most trusted institution.
Acres of space are dedicated everyday to the ICC
cases by every media house to the extent it is clear
the cases have become the institution’s bread and
butter. Some media houses have also realized that
slanting their stories against the ICC is good for
business, because the government is the largest
source of advertising monies, and this one is clearly
anti-ICC. This is hurting the media’s credibility with
the public. This means that should the government
decide to start censuring the media; maybe by
stopping the harrowing tales of the 2008 violence
that have now been brought (back) into our sitting
rooms; the public could easily support it. The media
is losing its voice on issues, as it ‘sells’ the ICC
stories.
Finally the ICC has also ‘created’ what seems like a
constantly angry government voice. Every time I
watch my President speaking, whatever the function,
I get the sense of someone who is angry; and it is not
hard to guess what he might be angry at.
Unfortunately this attitude is slowly creeping down to
other government officials, to the point where nearly
every communication from government, even a
simple tweet, sounds aggressive, harsh and angry. If
this is the voice from our government how will the
man on the street speak; will we end up sitting on a
powder keg as a nation?
ICC has divided our country, split the attention of our
government, affected the attitude of our leaders,
shifted our focus as a nation, removed security, our
institutions, constitution implementation, basic
services provision (important issues that affect every
Kenyan) off our priority list, and then silenced our
voices of reason. Is working with this Court really
worth it?

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