Talk to Al Jazeera

Uhuru Kenyatta: ‘Not a banana republic’

Despite facing charges of crimes against humanity, Kenya’s deputy prime minister says he will run for office.

Kenya’s disputed presidential vote of 2007 erupted into an ethnic conflict that left more than 1,200 people dead and 600,000 displaced.

The violence resulted in images that shocked the world and that no Kenyan wants to see again – men, hacked to death, women and children burnt alive as they sought refuge in a church.

In 2008, a coalition government between the rival candidates Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga put a lid on the tensions, but now there are worrying warning signs of what might happen after the upcoming elections.

Hundreds have been killed in Tana River Delta, where political rivalries have inflamed conflicts over resources, and the upcoming trial of two leading candidates for president could further complicate the election and its outcome.

Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto are due to stand trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Hague in April, just a month after the vote for allegedly stoking the violence last time around.

The ICC accuses Kenyatta, currently the deputy prime minister, of directing youth from his Kikiyu ethnic community to fight Raila Odinga’s Luo supporters in 2007 – charges he has always denied.

Will an electoral victory give him a chance to escape international justice?

Uhuru Kenyatta speaks to Al Jazeera’s Folly Bah Thibault about tribal violence, justice, politics and the future of Kenya.

He says: “I am not saying that international justice doesn’t have a purpose .… But if Kenyans do vote for us, it will mean that Kenyans themselves have questioned the process that has landed us at the International Criminal Court. But that does not mean that we will cease to cooperate because as I have said most importantly we understand and recognise the rule of law and we will continue to cooperate as long as we are signatories to the Rome Statute ….

“Even as we continue to face these charges we will still continue to appear. There is absolutely no power vacuum because one thing that people always tend to forget is that Kenya is not a banana republic. Kenya is a country that actually has really firm and clear institutions in place that would allow … so consequently the system and the state will continue to run regardless of the court, the two are not interlinked.”

undefinedThis episode of Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen from Tuesday, January 22, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 1630; Wednesday: 1130; Thursday: 0330; Friday: 0730.

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