World Bulletin / News Desk
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta revealed on Monday that he would appoint his deputy, William Ruto, as president when he goes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague to attend a pre-trial meeting [Status Conference] on October 8.
He said his personal attendance at the court would not compromise the sovereignty of his country's people or set precedence for the attendance of presidents before the court.
"Let it not be said that I am attending the Status Conference as the President of the Republic of Kenya," Kenyatta said. "Nothing in my position or my deeds as president warrants my being in court," he added, addressing 416 members of Kenya's Parliament and Senate in the capital Nairobi.
He said he had decided to go to the Hague not to put the sovereignty of more than 40 million Kenyans on trial since their democratic will should not be subject to another jurisdiction.
"My conscience is clear, has been clear and will remain forever clear for I am innocent of all allegations leveled against me," the Kenyan President said.
Kenyatta is charged with being criminally responsible for crimes against humanity, stemming from the 2007/2008 ethnic violence that caused the death of 1,300 people.
Around 300,000 more people were displaced before the violence was stopped.
On Monday, he said he had never interfered in investigations carried out in Kenya by the International Criminal Court.
"I was kept in suspense as the ICC Prosecutor engaged with the relevant organs of the government," he said. "Whenever the organs of the government of Kenya required any information in relation to these investigations, I gave the information to assist in establishing the truth at all material times," he added.
Even with this, he accused the ICC prosecution of "failing to properly investigate the matter."
"I was shocked that this case was not immediately dropped after the prosecution admitted to the lack of sufficient evidence to prove the allegations against me,” Kenyatta said in the televised address.
He had an important message to Kenyans: "Accept and understand my decision.”
"I also urge our African brothers and sisters to stand with Kenya and all people of goodwill and the friends of Kenya to stand with us at these times,” he said.
More than 150 Kenyan legislators are expected to attend the Status Conference, along with three judges, Kenya’s Attorney-General and representatives of Post-Election Victims.
Ordinary Kenyans have expressed varying reactions to Kenyatta’s decision to attend the pre-trial conference.
"I think it is an affront to African leaders," Zipporah Aweru, a Nairobi chemist, told Anadolu Agency. "It is improper for an African president to be hauled over to court," he added.
He considered the decision of the president "demeaning" and "humiliating."
"It is an insult to all the people of Africa," Aweru said. "I feel terrible about it," he added.
Egara Kabaji, an independent political commentator from Muliro University in Kakamega County, in Kenya's western region, liked to dwell on ramifications if Kenyatta had opted for not attending the conference.
"The president would have been restricted to traveling only within the borders of the African continent," Kabaji said. "That would have shown that he was already in prison. The moment of truth is eventually here," he added.
Vincent Odhiambo, a Nairobi newspaper seller, said the president's presence in the Hague would strengthen his image everywhere in the world.
"Let him build his international image," the newspaper seller said. "Let him present himself to the Hague. He is innocent until proven guilty," he added.
Plumber Alfred Komo agreed.
"The charges raised against him [the president] are related to events that took place before he became president," Komo said.
"He must respect the law and this will deliver a good image to all Kenyans and everybody in the world that nobody is above the law."Last Mod: 07 Ekim 2014, 14:00