The fate of the new Kenyan president, the legitimacy of the ICC

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Kenyatta - flickr

The election of any new president is a time of change for a nation, and Kenya is no different. Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, stood tall as Kenya’s new president, despite winning one of the closest election races in Kenyan history, and his contested criminal past.

Kenyatta has long been a central figure in Kenyan politics. His father, Jomo Kenyatta, is credited as the founder of the free Republic of Kenya, and, subsequently, the first president. In this way, Uhuru Kenyatta fulfills a family legacy. Having studied economics and politics at Amherst College in America, his politics-centric family was able to groom him into a successful businessman and political supporter of the Kenyan National Union.

However, there are a myriad of controversial claims as to his previous political actions. In the wake of the 2007 elections, ethnic rivalries surfaced and violence broke out across the country. Private militias were formed and Kenyatta is said to have actively funded one. Although he denies the allegation, he is still facing charges for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his involvement in the election violence. He has been quoted in saying he will work with the ICC to clear his name of the charges.

In fact, with many of the ICC’s charges falling upon Africa leaders, it is no surprise that the Kenyan people are not fazed by their new president’s supposed crimes. It has become common sentiment that the ICC merely targets Africans and thus, the people have begun to lose hope in this high court. In either case, Kenyatta’s trial is set for July 2013.

In this way, one wonders how the future of Kenya will look after this trial. It is true that every new president in any country ushers forth a new era of change. However, if Kenyatta is convicted of crimes against humanity, one foresees potential upheaval throughout the country. If the Kenyan people have already begun to lose respect in the ICC, what could occur if their president is found guilty—a charge the people deny? Accordingly, the fate of Kenyatta and the legitimacy of the ICC have come into question with his election and fast-approaching court date. Kenyatta was elected on a 50.7% majority, effectively tearing a country in half. In this way, there is no telling the fate of the country if this split nation is suddenly faced with a criminal president.

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