Jubilee cold over Raila testimony

By: JUSTUS WANGA

As some 70 MPs prepare to go to the Assembly of State Parties to pressure the International Criminal Court to release its grip on the Deputy President William Ruto, Jubilee has become indifferent to Cord’s leader Raila Odinga plea to testify in his favour.

This is a new twist, which contradicts earlier calls by Jubilee to have Mr Odinga boost the DP’s defence team.

The feeling is that even if it does not sway the court’s final decision, having Mr Odinga take to the stand in solidarity with Mr Ruto could be a game changer in the next polls.

They say it could hand the ODM leader a lifeline in some of the Jubilee’s strongholds like the Rift Valley.

“He would say look, I have brought back your son from The Hague, a sweeping statement that could help tilt the balance in the next polls,” a senior Jubilee member told the Sunday Nation.

The ICC cases was the main rallying call for President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy in the campaign trail where they lambasted Mr Odinga for ‘fixing’ them at the Hague-based court.

And observers agree that it is the major building block for the Jubilee coalition explaining why they would not want any change in the narrative in the next polls.

Politicians from the government side like Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, known for his abiding hatred for Mr Odinga, say Mr Odinga cannot be trusted as a defence witness.

“The guy has never meant well for Jubilee, why should we believe him on this?” he poses.

ODINGA’S TESTIMONY

The eight-day ASP begins on November 18th.

Sources in government indicate that MPs from the political divide will attend as Jubilee embarks on another round of campaign to help the DP win crimes against humanity cases, which emanated from the post-poll chaos the country witnessed in 2007/08 after the disputed presidential vote between Mr Odinga and retired President Mwai Kibaki.

Out of caution, Mr Ruto last Sunday welcomed former Prime Minister’s expression of willingness to be his witness in court.

“I think every person in Kenya who knows what happened and believes in justice and fairness should be able to step forward with a clear conscience and say what they know. And many of them know how the ICC matter came to be, I think everybody who knows the truth about what happened should step forward not because they want to help William Ruto but because they want the truth to come out,” he told the Sunday Nation in an interview last week.

The Sunday Nation is aware of a meeting of Jubilee strategists on Wednesday where the subject was discussed at length and an agreement reached that they will support anyone who wants to testify with a view to correcting ‘falsehoods’ that have been peddled for some time now.

It is at this meeting held in Parliament Buildings the political implications of Mr Odinga testifying in the case was discussed with majority agreeing it would hurt the alliance.

However, the DP’s legal team is said to seriously consider Mr Odinga’s offer since to them, getting their client unscathed from The Hague overrides any other considerations.

RUTO ABANDONED

Mr Odinga is on record as saying that he is “willing to testify at the ICC on behalf of my party, ODM. But as far as I know, no one has made such a request to me.”

There are reports that Mr Ruto’s co-accused Joshua Sang had written to Mr Odinga requesting to rally behind him in court to bolster their line of defence that they were mere victims of stiff political competition between ODM and PNU, two protagonists in the 2007 polls and the subsequent bloodbath.

Kericho Senator Charles Keter, a leading supporter of the DP, is among politicians from Rift Valley who accuse Mr Odinga of abandoning their son at his hour of need arguing he did not do enough to save him from the ICC.

“The feeling is that he took so long to come out and say that he did not fix the DP and that the DP is actually innocent. The people are of the view that the former Prime Minister did not appreciate the support they gave him in 2007 elections and now they are asking, where has he been all these years?”

He says, quickly pointing that such an act from the former premier’s side would not translate into votes for him.

ODM denies playing any role to ’fix’ Mr Ruto at the ICC.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION