Down the Memory Lane with William Ruto

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By Kenya Confidential Political Desk, Nairobi – May 9, 2020

During the 2007-2008 period of violence following the presidential election of December 2007, members of the network allegedly organized by Ruto, began attacking target locations including Turbo town, the greater Eldoret areas of Huruma, Kimumu, Langas, and Yamumbi, Kapsabet town, and Nandi Hills town

William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto, he became Deputy President in Kenya at 47 years old in March 2013. He is of Kipsigis origin from Komosi clan with his genealogy traced to Sigowet-Soin. He was born three years after independence on December 21, 1966 in Sambut Village. He belongs to the ethnic group of Kalenjin.

The Kalenjin number 6,358,113 individuals as per the Kenyan 2019 census and are divided into the Kipsigis, Nandi, Keiyo, Marakwet, Sabaot, Pokots, Tugen, Terik and Ogiek. They speak Kalenjin languages, which belong to the Nilotic language family.

Ruto and his lawyers at The Hague International Criminal Court

RUTO’S POLITICAL JOURNEY

In 1992, Ruto became Organising Secretary of Youth for Kanu ’92 (YK92), a youthful group that was formed to drum up support for Dictator Daniel Arap Moi in 1992 and 1997 general elections – extending the dictator’s reign of terror by ten years. He was elected to Parliament in 1997.

In January 2006, Ruto sought the nomination of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as its presidential candidate, but came in third in the party caucus behind the winner Raila Odinga, who became the ODM flag bearer. Challenging Raila for presidential nomination gave Ruto considerable political mileage in the Kalenjin community.

POST ELECTION VIOLENCE

In December 2006, Ruto, together with Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Joshua Arap Sang, had allegedly established a network with the aim of committing crimes directed against supporters of the Party of National Unity (PNU) in post-election violence if President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, won.

Their goals, according to ICC investigations, were to gain power in the Rift Valley Province and the Kenyan Government and to punish and expel from the Rift Valley those perceived to support the PNU.

Ruto allegedly provided essential contributions to the implementation of the common plan by way of organising and coordinating the commission of widespread and systematic attacks.

During the 2007-2008 period of violence following the presidential election of December 2007, members of the network allegedly organized by Ruto, began attacking target locations including Turbo town, the greater Eldoret areas of Huruma, Kimumu, Langas, and Yamumbi, Kapsabet town, and Nandi Hills town.

They approached each location from all directions, allegedly burning down PNU supporters’ homes and businesses, killing and torturing civilians, and systematically driving them from their homes.

On 1 January 2008, they burnt down a church in Kiambaa with more than 100 people inside the church. At least 40 people were burned alive wailing in desperation as a gang of youths forced those who tried to escape back – many burned beyond recognition and survivors seriously maimed.

Ruto and fellow MPs refused to attend the victims mass funeral attended by President Kibaki. They said they had not been invited. It was not clear what kind of invitation they expected to attend a public funeral.

According to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the post-election attacks resulted in more than 1,500 people dead, 3,500 injured and up to 650,000 forcibly displaced.

During 60 days of violence, there were hundreds of rapes, and over 100,000 properties were destroyed in four of Kenya’s eight provinces.The epicenter of violence was the Ruto’s Kalenjin-shared Rift Valley. Other areas affected were Nyanza, Nairobi and Coast provinces.

Following the violent political crisis over the results, Kibaki and Odinga agreed to form a power-sharing government. Ruto was appointed as Minister for Agriculture, even after a report produced by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights accused Ruto of inciting, planning and financing ethnically motivated violent activity in the aftermath of the 2007 elections.

On 15 December 2010, the ICC Prosecutor requested the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC to issue summonses to appear for Ruto, Kosgey and Sang.

According to the Prosecutor, there were reasonable grounds to believe that they were individually criminally responsible for murder, torture, deportation or forcible transfer and persecution on political grounds as crimes against humanity.

MURDER AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

On 31 March 2010 the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC granted, by majority, the Prosecution’s request to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Kenya, committed between 1 June 2005 and 26 November 2009.

On 15 December 2010, the Prosecutor of the ICC requested the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC to issue summonses to appear for Ruto, Kosgey and Sang.

On 8 March 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber II, by Majority, summoned Ruto, Kosgey and Sang to appear before the Court on 7 April 2011.

On 31 March 2011, the Kenyan government submitted an application challenging the admissibility of the case before the ICC. On 30 May 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber II rejected this application. Pre-Trial Chamber II’s decision was confirmed, on 30 August 2011, by the Appeals Chamber.

On 23 January 2012, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber confirmed the charges against Ruto. He was accused of being criminally responsible as an indirect co-perpetrator for the Crimes Against Humanity of:

  • Murder;
  • Deportation or forcible transfer of population; and
  • Persecution

On 9 July 2012, the ICC set the commencement of the trial on 10 April 2013. However, the start of the trial was postponed twice, first to 28 May 2013 and secondly to 10 September 2013.

ICC Prosecutor Fatuma Bensuda (centre) lost the Ruto case

On 18 June 2013, the ICC granted Ruto permission to be excused from being physically present continuously throughout the trial. The Prosecutor filed an appeal against this decision.

The Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber’s decision on 25 October 2013, ruling that the excusal of an accused from physical presence at trial should not become the rule.

The trial started on 10 September 2013. 628 victims were participating in the proceedings. During the trial, evidence appeared of widespread bribery and intimidation of witnesses testifying against Ruto.

On 18 September 2013, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji stated in a special reminder to the parties, that corruptly influencing a witness, obstructing or interfering with the attendance or testimony of a witness, or retaliating against a witness for giving testimony in a case before the Court is an offence against the administration of Justice in the ICC.

The ICC would later say that, according to the prosecution, the “eight witnesses are now no longer co-operating or have informed the prosecution that they are no longer willing to testify”.

ICC further said the witnesses could appear by video-link to testify and asked Kenya’s government “to make appropriate arrangements for the security of the eight witnesses until they appear before the court”.That was not done. Instead witness after witness either died mysteriously or disappeared never to be found.

On 26 October 2015 Ruto submitted a request to dismiss the charges and to enter a judgment of acquittal. On 5 April 2016, the Trial Chamber terminated the case by deciding that the charges are to be vacated and the accused are to be discharged.

The Trial Chamber explained that the Prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which the accused could reasonably be convicted. This decision does not preclude new prosecution either at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction.

Recently Ruto has been saying some unnamed persons are anxious to revive his ICC case, which can be re-instituted if adequate evidence is provided and witnesses willing to testify against him.

2007 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND ENSUING VIOLENCE

Ruto and fellow accused tribulations started after n 27 December 2007, presidential elections were held in Kenya. Mwai Kibaki was elected President, but the voting took place along ethnic lines and the opposition as well as international observers claimed that the elections had been manipulated.

Supporters of Raila Odinga, the opponent of Mwai Kibaki, staged several non-violent protests, but also engaged in violent demonstrations in several parts of the country. The Police shot at a number of demonstrators causing more violent protests.

Civil unrest and targeted ethnic violence ensued. It was first directed mainly against the Kikuyu people, the community of which Kibaki is a member, in the Rift Valley Province. Hard hit were Kenyans in poor settlement areas that Ruto calls “hustlers” and struggling business people, while the rich, referred to as “dynasties”, were never touched. Thousand of so-called hustlers were rendered homeless as internally displaced persons (IDPS) – which they remain as you read this.

This violence escalated with the killing of over 30 unarmed civilians in Kiamba church near Eldoret (Rift Valley) on 1 January 2008. Some of the Kikuyu people, mainly Mungiki hired by the late Njenga Karume, engaged in retaliatory violence against ethnic groups supportive of Odinga, primarily the Luos and the Kalenjin youths in Naivasha and Nairobi slum settlements. Neither Ruto nor Raila ever apologised for the genocide.

The slums of Nairobi witnessed intense violence including ethnically motivated attacks, outrages at extreme poverty and actions of criminal gangs. The violence continued sporadically for several months, particularly in the Rift Valley.

Kofi Annan helped mediate Raila, Kibaki dispute

In January 2008, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan successfully brought the two sides to negotiation. On 28 February 2008, Kibaki and Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement called the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which established the office of Prime Minister and created a coalition government. Odinga became the Prime Minister of the government, which was sworn in on 17 April 2008.

Former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa has said locking out Mr William Ruto and Ms Martha Karua from the post-elections violence mediation team in 2008 helped secure a power-sharing agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.

In his book, Mr Mkapa also reveals how Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni nearly rocked the mediation boat as wealthy Kenyans piled pressure on the negotiators and belligerents for an agreement. The Tanzanian leader says it was the decision of his successor Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to sidestep Ruto and Karua that broke the deadlock in the talks.

Ruto was adamant that he should be the Prime Minister and not Raila. He also insisted that there should be no compensation for those who had been displaced during the ethnic conflict.

Mkapa believes that a visit by the mediation team to camps where victims of the violence and the internally displaced were, calmed tension and restored hope in Kenyans. He says he was saddened by the images he saw at Eldoret stadium and Kiambaa Church, also in Eldoret, where more than 40 women and children were burnt to death on New Year’s Day in 2008.

“Poor innocent children were killed or injured. So sad. What did uhuru(independence) mean to these suffering people who had lost loved ones, or had been injured and fled their homes? How could any leader condone this? It was tragic. I hope this never happens in my country,” writes the former president who took over from Mr Ali Hassan Mwinyi as president in 1995 and left office in 2005.

The talks would eventually lead to the signing of the National Accord and subsequent formation of a government of national unity – also known as the Grand Coalition Government.

COMMISSION OF INQUIRY AND TRUTH, JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

By the end of January 2008, around 1,500 people were killed and approximately 650,000 were displaced. The government of Kenya established several inquiry commissions including the Commission of Inquiry on Post-Election Violence (Waki Commission) to investigate the clashes that ensued after the 2007 presidential elections.

On 15 October 2008, the Commission submitted the so-called “Waki report”, recommending the creation of an independent Court with international oversight to try cases of international crimes and allegations that ministers, legislators and businessmen funded and fomented the violence. Kenya Parliament poured scorn on the idea of a local court binding for the Hague based ICC. Vocal among the MPs was William Ruto.

Waki Report: Handed to President Mwai Kibaki

Names of the alleged perpetrators were not disclosed publicly, but to Kofi Annan, who handed them over to the ICC Prosecutor in July 2009. The Commission gave the Parliament one year, beginning July 2009, to establish such a Court after which, it would disclose the names of the alleged perpetrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In October 2008, the Parliament established the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to investigate and recommend appropriate action regarding abuses committed between the country’s independence in 1963 and the conclusion of the power-sharing deal of 28 February 2008. The Commission was supposed to be complementary to prosecution of human rights abuses either by an international tribunal in Kenya or the ICC.

The Commission did not have the power to prosecute, but to recommend prosecutions, reparations, amnesty in exchange for the truth by the perpetrators who did not commit gross human rights violations. Victims could apply for reparations if they qualify.

In February 2009, the Parliament rejected the Constitution Amendment Bill, which would have allowed for the creation of a special court for the prosecution of crimes committed during the post-elections violence. The “Waki Commission” disclosed the names of the alleged perpetrators to the ICC Prosecutor.

On 31 March 2010, the ICC authorized the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation in Kenya in relation to alleged crimes against humanity falling within the ICC jurisdiction. Three persons indicted at the ICC were: William Samoei Ruto, Joshua Arap Sang and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. Furthermore, the ICC also issued an arrest warrant against Walter Osapiri Barasa.

AFRICAN UNION AND ICC

With indictment against Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the ICC is seeking to prosecute two incumbent African heads of state. The tension between African countries and the ICC, which have existed since the Court’s creation, increased considerably with a controversial decision the African Union took on 12 October 2013.

The 54-member organization of African states unanimously adopted a resolution asking the UN Security Council to defer the trials against any serving head of state or government or anybody acting during his term in office. The AU decided further, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta should refuse to attend his trial before the ICC.

Uhuru opted to attend all his trial sessions until he was acquitted. Bashir clung to power until he was deposed in a popular uprising last year He was placed house arrest and recommended for trial by the same ICC African heads were trying to protect him from. The Organization has repeatedly accused the ICC of being one-sided, because it has so far only tried African cases.

However, last February Sudan’s rulers agreed to hand over ex-President Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face genocide and war crimes charges. Bashir is accused of serious crimes in a conflict that broke out in Darfur in 2003 and led to the deaths of 300,000.

Authorities said the former president, and others charged by the ICC, should appear before the court.The commitment came at peace talks between Sudan’s government and rebel groups from the Darfur region.

“Justice cannot be achieved if we don’t heal the wounds,” said Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a spokesman for the Sudanese government. Kenya should have taken the same position instead of adopting superficial solution to a problem of wounds that have not healed.

The African Organization has repeatedly accused the ICC of being one-sided, because it has so far only tried African cases.

2013 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

On 4 March 2013 general elections were held in Kenya. These were the first general elections held under the new Constitution from 2010, and the first that were run by Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a regulatory agency in charge of supervising referenda and elections. Uhuru Kenyatta was declared President-elect. He defeated his opponent Raila Odinga, in what observers considered mostly fair and transparent elections.

Uhuru and Ruto 2013 victory: Soon the joy would turn sour

William Samoei Ruto became Kenyatta’s Deputy-President. The fact that both Kenyatta and Ruto faced harges of crimes against humanity before the ICC, which was publicly known before the elections, did not prevent them from winning over the majority of voters.

The duo proceeded to win a second term in 2017 but their personal and political chemistry took different paths. Uhuru wanted to consolidated a legacy by which he would be remembered through what he called “Big 4 Agenda”, Ruto immediately embarked on premature presidential succession campaign.

Deputy President launched his campaign for 2022 immediately after the 2017 elections. The plan was to use the next five years to campaign vigorously so that he would have a decisive head start over other presidential candidates. The plan also entailed a deliberate separation with Uhuru Kenyatta for strategic reasons. The DP’s campaign was to be focused on the Rift Valley and Mt. Kenya regions with a view to consolidating the Jubilee Party’s strongholds in 2017 – the two voter-rich regions.

Last word:

Ruto has since becoming Deputy President built a thick wall around himself to isolate himself from all his former co-accused at the Hague International Criminal Court including fellow Kalenjins Henry Kosgey and Joshua Sang let alone Francis Muthaura and Mohamed Ali.

But it is the shocking conduct by the Deputy President to engage on a premature presidential campaign to inherit President Uhuru Kenyatta since 2013 that is beyond all measure of greed for power. As a result the two no longer see eye to eye on any issue except for Ruto showing open defiance on any policy decision instituted by the President. To him every decision by the president is calculated to block his 2022 presidential bid.

In his obsession to inherit Uhuru, Ruto has called a bluff the president’s war on corruption making a mockery of it by openly saying he “does not believe corruption cannot stop a leader from delivering in Kenya”. His supporters, crafted by the deputy president as “hustler nation”, say the fight against corruption is intended to block Ruto’s ascendancy to the Presidency as is the Lifestyle audit, Uhuru-Raila handshake, the Building Bridges Initiative and of late the efforts to curb coronavirus pandemic.

Of late the political chasm between Ruto and Uhuru is widening by the day making nonsense of unity in their ruling party Jubilee from top to bottom. The potential of violence in the Rift Valley is gaining momentum and should Kenyans not seek amicable solution prior to 2022 General Election, the 2008-2009 Post Election Violence will be a historical picnic.