Reuters Africa

By Thomas Escritt and James Macharia

AMSTERDAM/NAIROBI (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday cleared the way for the trial of four Kenyans accused of being behind the violence which erupted after elections in December 2007.

Kenya’s finance minister Kenyatta and former Kenyan cabinet minister Ruto in Nairobi

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s former finance minister and presidential hopeful and three others, have denied the charges and claimed the court did not have the right to try them.

The four must now stand trial over accusations of being behind the violence that killed at least 1,220 people. There was no immediate reaction from the accused or their lawyers.

Analysts said the decision will be a test to the Kenyan government on whether it will cooperate with the war crimes court, and will also impact on the upcoming polls in a country where a political elite has long been considered above the law.

“It was inevitable … Now it’s down to the government to behave with decorum and common sense and not play fast and loose with the national interest. It is our government’s reaction which is key now,” independent analyst Aly Khan Satchu said.

“One part of the government has been on a wild goose chase for eternity (to block the Hague trials), why should they stop now?”

Kenya insists it will cooperate with the ICC, and the suspects have said they will comply with the court, but the government is critical of the war crimes court and supportive of the Sudanese president who has avoided an ICC arrest warrant.

Kenyatta and William Ruto, the former higher education minister, are charged with directing mob violence that sent east Africa’s biggest economy to the brink of civil war.   Read more…