The Kenyan Presidential Election and the ICC

On March 3, 2013, Kenyans went to the polls and elected Uhuru Kenyatta as President.

kenyatta

Kenyatta’s ability to perform the necessary duties may be called into question, however, given that he is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court this summer on charges of crimes against humanity. The charges stem from his alleged role in funding and organizing the ethnic violence that led to the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people after the last presidential election in 2007. Kenyatta has said that he will cooperate with the ICC when it comes time for him to face the charges, but the very fact that he was elected president of a country in which he allegedly masterminded post-election violence in the past is concerning. (photo credit)

It is unclear exactly what role – if any – the ICC case had in the election, and how it may have influenced voters. Some reports, however, indicate that, far from leading people to vote against Kenyatta due to the charges against him, the ICC involvement may have led Kenyans to vote for him (see here and here.) Leading up to the elections, the United States and other countries warned of consequences should Kenyatta be elected. These statements, perhaps perceived as bullying, may have had the opposite of their intended effect. Indeed, where ICC involvement is considered interference in Kenya’s domestic affairs, a vote for Kenyatta may be a vote against the ICC and the international community.

On the other hand, the ICC charges against Kenyatta may not have had much effect at all on the election, given that voting was largely along ethnic lines and Kenyatta had plenty of resources to put toward his campaign. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the world reacts to a Kenyatta presidency, and how Kenya – and Kenyatta – will react in July once the ICC proceedings start.

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