By: KENNEDY KIMANTHI
More than 100 Jubilee politicians on Sunday renewed pressure on Cord boss Raila Odinga to appear at the International Criminal Court to testify on behalf of Deputy President William Ruto.
The politicians want Mr Odinga to exonerate Mr Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang, the two Kenyans who are still facing crimes against humanity charges at the ICC.
The more than 100 leaders, including MPs, senators and MCAs said the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader should record a statement with investigative institutions over the Ruto case. Mr Ruto was a senior ODM official at the time of the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
The political leaders gave the challenge to Mr Odinga during the fourth interdenominational prayer rally for Mr Ruto, Mr Sang and the 2007/08 Post Election Violence victims at DEB Primary School in Meru town.
Led by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and his Senate counterpart, Mr Kithure Kindiki, the politicians said Mr Odinga must come clean on what he knows about the alleged “procurement” of witnesses against Mr Ruto.
They also dismissed an offer by Mr Odinga’s brother, Dr Oburu Oginga, to testify on Mr Ruto’s behalf, saying the ODM and Cord leader should take the witness box himself.
Already, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria of TNA — who was the first to allege that witnesses were “procured to fix Mr Ruto” has offered to testify as a defence witness.
At a prayer rally in Mt Elgon last month, Mr Kuria alleged that the Deputy President was “fixed” by leaders who included Mr Odinga, the then Justice minister Martha Karua and the then ODM secretary-general, Prof Anyang Nyong’o.
On Monday, Mr Kuria will be interviewed by Mr Ruto’s lawyer, Ms Shyamala Alagendra, and Mr Sang’s lawyer, Mr Katwa Kigen, in Parliament Buildings.
He is also scheduled to be interviewed by a team from the ICC prosecutor’s office on Monday and Tuesday.
Yesterday, the Gatundu South MP criticised the ICC for allegedly trying to threaten him and maintained that he was ready to testify in court. He also challenged Mr Odinga not to sit and watch as his former deputy party leader was being “victimised” in court.
“I have agreed to meet ICC and be a defence witness because I have a story to tell,” Mr Kuria told the rally in Meru. “But ICC should not be used to gag or intimidate me. If Mr Odinga is man enough, let him come and also testify.”
Mr Duale said the claim of witness procurement was proof that the ICC case was political from the start. He, too, challenged Mr Odinga to testify.
“We respect Raila’s brother Oburu for his offer to testify. But Mr Odinga cannot be replaced by his brother. We want him personally to testify in this case so that the two can be freed,” he said. “He must also appear alongside Ms Martha Karua, Prof Anyang Nyong’o and Mr Moses Kuria before the Director of Public Prosecution and record statements about what they know about the case at ICC.”
He also accused ICC of changing the rules of engagement in its handling of the Kenya cases and said it was wrong to do away with an earlier agreement that the amended Article 68 would not be used in the cases already before the court.
Prof Kindiki, the Senate Majority Leader, cautioned Cord against seeking cheap publicity by plotting to testify in defence of Mr Ruto.
“They are free to say what they know of the innocence of the two Kenyans. Those who want to testify in favour of Mr Ruto and Mr Sang should speed up and give record statements to the DPP and ICC so that the case ends. But, let them be warned, don’t play politics with this issue,” said Prof Kindiki.
He said Jubilee would not relent until the two are freed of the crimes against humanity charges that they are facing.
Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet), Mr Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) and Mr Charles Keter (Kericho) said that the ICC issue will not split Jubilee.
“This is not a country of us versus them. Kikuyus and Kalenjins are not enemies and we are ready to continue living in one mosaic country. We have to get relevant evidence to set Mr Ruto and Mr Sang free to build one nation,” said Mr Murkomen.
Mr Keter castigated The Hague-based court for allowing prosecutors to use recanted witness statements in the Kenya cases while Mr Murungi asked Mr Odinga and his allies to openly state what they knew about the cases against Mr Ruto and Mr Sang.
Mr Francis Muthaura, the former head of the Civil Service and whose case was terminated by the court, accused former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of “packaging” lies against Kenyans.
“At the end of these cases, it will be Mr Ocampo who will be on trial. It is just a matter of time and they will be free. We are passing a clear message that we cannot be all wrong as Kenyans,” said Mr Muthaura.