Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Kenyan lawmaker William Ruto said he and deputy premier Uhuru Kenyatta can run the country even while fighting International Criminal Court indictments, if their coalition wins elections in March.
Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, and Ruto are facing a trial due to start in April at the Hague-based ICC on charges of crimes against humanity for their role in directing violence following Kenya’s last elections in 2007. The men deny allegations by ICC prosecutors that they ordered their supporters to murder and forcibly displace one another in ethnic clashes that left more than 1,100 people dead and forced 300,000 from their homes.
The duo announced this month they had formed a coalition to contest the vote on March 4, which could be followed by a second round of balloting a month later if no presidential candidate achieves a majority in the first round. Their trials at the ICC, alongside two other Kenyan suspects, are scheduled to begin on April 10.
“We are law-abiding citizens. We will attend the ICC,” Ruto said in an interview on Nairobi-based Citizen TV. “Kenyans should have no worry about our capacity to run this country.”
The exact make-up of the alliance remains unclear. Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, a member of the United Democratic Front, told a press conference yesterday that Kenyatta had agreed in writing to back him as a nominee for the alliance’s presidential candidate two weeks ago. A delegates conference to choose the party’s “flag-bearer” scheduled for yesterday was canceled so that delegates of the so-called three-party Jubilee Coalition could reorganize the process, Kenyatta’s National Alliance party said on Dec. 17. Ruto represents the United Republican Party.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, 81, has said he will abide by the constitution’s two-term limit and step down.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, from the Orange Democratic Movement, has formed a coalition with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement and about a dozen other political parties. An Ipsos-Synovate survey of 1,625 Kenyans released on Dec. 14 shows this group may win 47 percent of the vote, while Kenyatta and Ruto may get 41 percent. About 22 percent of Kenyans were undecided, it said.
Ruto said being suspected of committing crimes by the ICC isn’t reason to stop any bid to sit in the East African nation’s highest offices.
“You don’t subordinate your constitutional rights for allegations made against you,” he said.
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