When Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is sworn-in as Kenya’s fourth president next week, he will become the second African sitting head of state facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Kenyatta will take office next Tuesday, April 9. This was confirmed after the Supreme Court dismissed two petitions challenging his election on March 4 as well how the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) conducted the polls. On Saturday, the Supreme Court unanimously declared the elections were conducted in “a free, fair, transparent and credible manner,” in compliance with the constitution. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who read the summary of the judgement on behalf of the other five judges of the Supreme Court, said they would issue a detailed judgement in 14 days. This decision and the validation of Kenyatta’s election removed the only obstacle remaining for him to ascend to the presidency.
This puts Kenyatta, who faces five counts of crimes against humanity at the ICC, in the same company as the President of the Republic of Sudan, Omar Ahmad Hassan al-Bashir. The Sudanese leader faces eight counts of crimes against humanity and genocide at the ICC, but unlike Kenyatta, he has so far failed to cooperate with the court. Al-Bashir has not gone through the ICC’s pre-trial process and has an outstanding arrest warrant, which has limited the countries he is able to visit as his country’s head of state, including Kenya.
The Kenyan High Court reaffirmed in November 2011 the arrest warrant issued against al-Bashir following an application from the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya). ICJ-Kenya applied to the court after al-Bashir visited Kenya for a ceremony to mark the formal start of the country’s progressive constitution in August 2010. The Attorney General has appealed that decision, a matter that remains unresolved.
For his part, Kenyatta has cooperated with the court, which has given him conditional summons and not an arrest warrant against him. Kenyatta’s case has also progressed from the pre-trial to the trial stage, and his trial is scheduled to start on July 9 this year. The charges he faces are for his alleged role in the violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential election.
*Update: The full judgment is now available here.