Majority of Kenyans happy with ICC judges’ decisions, saying justice will be done

A significant majority of Kenyans are satisfied with the decision the International Criminal Court (ICC) has made to send four high profile Kenyans to trial, a finding that goes counter to the sentiments some senior politicians have expressed in the past two weeks.

In the first opinion poll to be released since ICC pre-trial judges made a 2-1 decision to send the four to trial, Ipsos Synovate found that 60 percent of Kenyans are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the judges’ ruling. The majority of these respondents said they are satisfied with the judges’ decisions because they believe justice will finally be done.

As would be expected when the judges announced their decision on January 23, some of the accused criticized it. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka was among politicians allied to some of the accused to lead a chorus against the decision, suggesting it was detrimental to Kenya’s image. Attorney General Githu Muigai, under instruction from President Mwai Kibaki, has formed a team made of foreign and Kenyan lawyers to advise the government on its options in the cases, despite the ICC pre-trial judges stating that the four prominent people are being charged in their individual capacities.

Of the respondents who said they were satisfied with the ICC decisions, 65 percent of them said it was because they believe justice will finally be done. This was followed by 19 percent saying that ICC decisions are generally satisfactory. They were followed by six percent who believe there is a high likelihood that those whose cases were confirmed were responsible for the post-election violence.

“The ICC is probably viewed as an independent court that is able to deliver justice to both the accused and victims of the post-election violence,” said Victor Rateng, Project Manager of the Opinion Polls for Ipsos Synovate.

Something significant in the Ipsos Synovate opinion poll released on Monday is the high level of satisfaction with the latest ICC decision in Eastern Province – at 59 percent. One of the accused, former Public Service chief, Francis Kirimi Muthaura, is a native of Eastern Province. In previous opinion polls on the public’s views on the ICC process, Eastern Province has registered declining support for the ICC process since December 2010 when ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo named Muthaura was a possible suspect.

According to previous Ipsos Synovate polls on the subject, opposition to the ICC process had risen in Eastern Province to 53 percent in October 2011 and stagnated at that level in December 2011. This is up from 39 percent of respondents opposing the ICC process in December 2010. Two months before that, when no potential suspect had been named, support for the ICC process in Eastern Province stood at 71 percent in October 2010, according to a past Ipsos Synovate poll.

The latest poll also shows that opinion in the Rift Valley Province is split right in the middle with 50 percent of the respondents expressing some form of satisfaction with the court’s decision, while the other half is not. Two of the accused in the Kenya cases are from the Rift Valley – former Cabinet minister William Samoei Ruto and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang. The pre-trial judges declined to confirm the charges against a third person, former Cabinet minister Henry Kiprono Kosgey, who is one of the longest serving members of parliament from the Rift Valley.

“Rift Valley is vast and not exclusively occupied by a particular ethnic community, for this reason, it may not necessarily be in full support of or against the ICC process,” said Rateng. “Also, with the dropping of charges against Tinderet MP (member of parliament) Henry Kosgey, it is probably an indication that the process is fairer than they previously had been made to believe and that the other two from the region may also be acquitted at the end of the day,”

Just like Eastern Province, the Rift Valley Province has shown in the past a similar increase in opposition to the ICC process. In December 2010, opposition to the ICC process in the Rift Valley was 51 percent, rising to 63 percent in June 2011, according to past Ipsos Synovate polls on the subject. This is the period during which the ICC prosecutor named six suspects and the pre-trial process began. It then decreased to 51 percent in October 2011, only to rise to 60 percent in December 2011. Before any suspects were named, 61 percent of respondents supported the ICC process in October 2010, according to past Ipsos Synovate polls.

Another other major finding of this week’s opinion poll is that 69 percent of Kenyans believe that there will be no violence during the next general elections. The poll also found that the ICC decision has not had an impact on the presidential race with the percentages for different aspirants reflecting only minor changes. Prime Minister Raila Odinga remains the top contender with 31 percent of the respondents saying in February they will vote for him, compared to 32 percent in December last year. His closest rival, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta got the nod from 24 percent of the respondents in February, up from 22 percent in December 2011.

However, the public also wants Kenyatta to resign his post of deputy prime minister. Sixty-two percent said that they believe he should resign because he is facing trial at the ICC. Kenyatta already resigned his Finance portfolio on January 26. Muthaura resigned his position as Secretary to the Cabinet, Head of Public Service, and Permanent Secretary to the Presidency on the same day as Kenyatta. Eighty percent of the respondents in the poll said they supported their resignations.

The Ipsos Synovate funded the poll, which is based on telephone interviews with 1,523 respondents conducted between January 27 and February 1. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percent.

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