Retracing genesis of Uhuru’s long battle with civil society

Civil society groups seem to have been a thorn in the flesh of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration since he assumed power in 2013.

Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto formed the Jubilee government as charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC were still in court.

But before being sworn into office, AfriCOG, alongside Raila Odinga’s Cord, moved to the Supreme Court to challenge Uhuru’s election as Kenya’s fourth President. Uhuru was pronounced the winner and the case dismissed for lack of evidence. Uhuru and Ruto were among six Kenyans facing the charges alleged to have been committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-08 that left over 1,000 people dead.

By then, civil society groups were perceived to be pro-ICC and anti-government as Uhuru and Ruto’s lawyers accused the human rights activists, jointly with foreign financiers, of allegedly funding those who testified before the Hague-based court.

Kenya Human Rights Commission executive director George Kegoro was then the secretary to the Waki Commission of Inquiry tasked with probing the skirmishes.

The commission drafted the Waki report which was presented to former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but it did not enshrine the alleged perpetrators of the violence.

The commission handed over the list of the alleged perpetrators to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who later gave it to former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo.

In 2014, the groups accused the Jubilee administration of introducing strict rules for NGOs after “unsuccessfully” trying to limit their foreign funding.

Some of them said the move was precipitated by the cases against Uhuru and Ruto at the ICC. They claimed that some state officers had curtailed them from holding meetings and were out to slash the funding of several NGOs.

While leading the country in commemorating Kenya’s 52nd Independence Day on December 12, 2016, the President claimed “external powers” were seeking to influence the election results.

Uhuru gave his strongest hint yet that Kenya would join other countries in withdrawing from the ICC.

He said some global powers are bankrolling regime change in Kenya “in the guise of supporting good governance or civic education”.

“I want to caution those members of the international community taking these actions that the Kenyan people do not look kindly on such actions,” Uhuru said, during the fete at the Nyayo National Stadium.

He continued, “I urge all Kenyans to reject such interference. This is our country and no one should ever try and control our choices for their selfish interests.” Last year, Total petroleum company resolved to halt the Kenya-Uganda crude oil pipeline deal with Uganda, after revelations that an NGO had released a security report warning of security attacks in Kenya.

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