BY ROBERT MANYARA and CHRIS MGIDU
ELDORET, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) – Anxiety and growing tensions have rocked parts of Rift Valley province, the home of the three of the six Kenyans facing trials at the International Criminals Court (ICC) in The Hague, as the final verdict is expected soon.
However the government has banned tribal grouping and warned peddlers of political rumors calculated to trigger ethnicity a mid security alert in the North Rift region. Also eliciting temperatures are the country’s polls with some members from other communities living in the area selling their farms to seek transfer.
Eldoret lawmaker William Ruto who is eyeing the presidency has a large following from his Kalenjin tribesmen in the area and his political tribulations has not gone down well with the community who perceive that there is a political hand in the ICC case. Some members from the non-Kalenjin community living in hotspots in political violence are selling their farms fearing a repeat of the 2007-2008 political unrest.
“There is fear and tension in some hotspots areas like Burnt Forest. I know some people are selling their land because they are not taking chances despite assurance from our people that there would be no violence,” Stephen Bondutich, a Kalenjin tribesman told Xinhua on Sunday. Presiding judge at the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II Ekaterina Trendafilova and her colleagues Hans Peter-Kaul and Cuno Tarfusser will on Jan. 23 determine whether the prosecutor presented sufficient evidence for the charges to be confirmed.
In the first case, MPs Ruto, Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang are facing three counts each of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution of perceived supporters of President Mwai Kibaki after the 2007 general election. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and Postmaster General Hussein Ali, are facing five charges each for murder, rape, forcible transfer of population, persecution and other inhumane acts during the 2008 post election violence that left 1,333 people dead and 350, 000 others displaced.
Lawyers have said the judges can drop or confirm all the charges for all the six suspects or drop some charges for some suspects. The Prosecutor can also be asked to amend his evidence. If the charges are confirmed, the Pre-Trial Chamber will ask the ICC Presidency to constitute a trail chamber that will try the Kenyan suspects.
Despite assurance from the Kalenjin community that there would be no repeat of the violence members of other communities anticipating violence from the ICC verdict, are silently abandoning their farms to safe places. John Seii, a Kalenjin elder however said the ground is prepared for eventuality of the ICC ruling. “We have done a lot in terms of reconciliation. What we need to understand now is that we need to work as Kenyans and not inclined to our tribes,” Seii told Xinhua in Eldoret town. In most parts of the province there is lengthy talks centered on the ICC and the Ruto presidential candidature.
Most non-Kalenjin communities are anxiously awaiting the ICC ruling with some fearing a recurrence of the violence if the charges against the Ocampo Six are confirmed. Observers warn that unless the ICC processing is not managed well, the reoccurrence of the violence is imminent. The groups note that the government has not done enough to prepare Kenyans on the eventual outcome of the ICC.
“The current political temperature in the county could plunge the region into chaos once again. Most people from the Kalenjin community believe that there are forces behind Ruto’s tribulation at the ICC, so if the charges are confirmed they will believe that this was a scuttle plot to deny Ruto the opportunity to gun for the presidency,” argues a close political observer who declined to named due to security reasons.
Government officials however dismiss claim that tension is building in the region arguing that communities in the area bust preparing their farms in readiness to the planting season. “The communities are co-existing well. There is peace and harmony and if there is such cases of threats they would be investigated and necessary action taken,” said Eldoret Regional Commissioner Wanyama Musiambu.
Meanwhile, the government has banned tribal grouping and put on notice peddlers of political rumors in the North Rift region. Regional Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga said district security committees in Trans-Nzoia, Pokot and Turkana counties have established security units to crackdown on night meetings held by some tribal leaders in the area.
Speaking at Kitale during end year party for police officers in the Trans-Nzoia County, Wanyanga directed that no tribal grouping would be allowed to destabilize prevailing peace in the region. “The tribal groupings and night meeting held in hotels and residential areas must stop forthwith. Security agencies are on high alert to deal with instigators of tribal animosities in the region,” warned Wanyanga.
The official said politicians driving tribal agenda are set to fail and warned that the government would not allow such motives to ruin peace. Inciters and propagators of tribal hatred, he cautioned would be dealt with accordingly and asked local administrators and police chiefs to ensure stern action is meted on offenders. The state, he said would on watchful to seize leaders issuing inflammatory and provocative speech and also breeding seed of discontent are punished in line with the law.
He ordered the Trans-Nzoia divisional police Chief Lucas Ogara, to monitor activities of some politicians scheming to inciter various communities in the area. Wanyanga also allayed fears that there is tension in the area emanating from the expected ICC proceedings to decide the fate of the Ocampo Six. “It would a dream for those plotting to use the ICC proceedings to trigger animosities among the communities in the county and I assure residents that the government is keen on the security of all Kenyans,” he pledged. (Xinhua)