The increasing possibility that deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s and Eldoret North MP William Ruto’s names may be on the ballot paper could significantly alter the Kibaki succession.On Tuesday, the prosecution informed the trial judges that they would complete revealing incriminating evidence against the two by the end of March 2013.
Making submissions during the status conference, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicated that he had no problem with Mr Ruto’s request to have the trials after the March elections as long as the accused make a “written undertaking” that they will not skip proceedings.
However, the decision on when the trials will begin lies with the judges who are expected to make the announcement before July 13.
It remains to be seen whether the trial judges will be sensitive to the local political calendar.
Unless barred by the local courts on the strength of the integrity chapter in the Constitution, the two men will be free to run in the election if the trial is after the General Election.
This would certainly complicate matters for presidential candidates perceived to be hinging their chances on the possibility of Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr Ruto’s absence from the ballot, notably Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.
However, the accused should not be fast in celebrating, cautions Masinde Muliro University lecturer Egara Kabaji.
He argues that whereas MPs still have a chance to water down the Bill on integrity and leadership due to be tabled in Parliament, citizens could still move to court to seek constitutional interpretation.
Prof Kabaji reckons that if all obstacles facing Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were removed and the two run separately, Mr Mudavadi would be the biggest casualty.
He argued that Mr Mudavadi’s campaign appears to have been built on presumed absence of the two accused from the presidential race.
In an Eldoret rally on January 27, Mr Musyoka criticised those advancing the view that he was shedding crocodile tears and was waiting in the wings to benefit if it becomes difficult for the two rivals to vie for State House.
“Claims that I will benefit from the ICC confirmation charges really hurt me. I do not see the need of going for the presidency if Uhuru and Ruto are not in the race,” he said.
Some in the political circles have been heard saying that Mr Mudavadi, who recently bolted from Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange movement, is positioning himself to inherit the Kenyatta-Ruto constituencies if they are locked out of the polls.
“If Kenyatta and Ruto do not run, Mr Mudavadi will be the greatest beneficiary. But if they run, the man from Sabatia will be minced meat,” says Prof Kabaji.
In his view, the next election will be a contest between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta, a situation that is likely to rekindle rivalries between the families which have been at loggerheads for decades.
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