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Most Kenyans Want War Crimes Court to Try Violence Suspects

Most Kenyans want the International Criminal Court to try suspected instigators of post-election violence in 2008 that killed as many as 1,500 people, according to survey by market research company Synovate.

Fifty-four percent of Kenyans favor the perpetrators standing trial at the Hague-based ICC, with the remainder almost split evenly between forgiving the offenders and trying them locally, the Nairobi-based unit of Synovate said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The poll of 1,501 Kenyans between Sept. 16 and Sept. 20 had a margin of error of 3 percentage points, Managing Director George Waititu said today in a phone interview from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The clashes were sparked by a disputed December 2007 election, which the opposition said was rigged to return President Mwai Kibaki to office for a second term. The bloodshed stopped after Kibaki signed a power-sharing deal with his rival, Raila Odinga, who became prime minister.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced yesterday that the court will start prosecutions against as many as six suspects.

Synovate’s poll indicates the Kenyan public may disagree with some government officials, such as Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, who argued that provisions in the country’s new constitution to strengthen local courts means there’s no longer a need for the ICC’s involvement, Waititu said.

Kibaki signed into law the new constitution on Aug. 27 to replace one dating to Kenya’s independence from the U.K. in 1963.

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