Who Is William Ruto
Four years after the eruption of post-election violence in Kenya (“PEV”), and after more than 2 years of Kenya’s inability or unwillingness to prosecute the perpetrators of the violence, the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) has summoned six suspects named by its Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo (“the Chief Prosecutor” or “Ocampo”) as the most responsible for the violence. Ruto is among the six or the “Ocampo Six,” as they are collectively referred to. The other five suspects are Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, Henry Kosgey, Hussein Ali, and Joshua Sang. Immediately following the naming of the Ocampo Six, President Kibaki and his half of the coalition government went into full gear in efforts to defer the ICC prosecution of these cases. These efforts have, however, thus far been futile and the case is moving forward. The Ocampo Six are now scheduled to appear at the Hague this week to have the charges against them formally read to them.
In previous parts of this five part series, I have tried to describe who Ruto is and what led to his being charged at the Hague as well the politics of all of this. In this second to last part of this series, I am offering what Ruto may have as a defense against the charges he faces. I fully anticipate some may take this to be a contradiction, namely, why would I be so critical of Ruto as I have been, yet offer a defense for him (as opposed to offering a case why Ocampo should nail him to the wall). I don’t think the two positions I have taken are inconsistent in any way; I am aligned with the Orange Democratic Party (“ODM”) and Ruto was one of those who supported and campaigned on the ODM platform.
I actually had an occasion to meet Ruto and four of the Pentagon Five at the Fairview Hotel in Nairobi just before the elections in 07 and told a Kalenjin friend I was with immediately after the meeting that, looking at that table, and given Ruto’s discomfort with our presence, it was my conclusion that Ruto could not possibly be on that team for much long after the elections.
I based my assessment on what I observed with the four sitting at table and told my friend this: there was Ruto, looking at Ngilu, Mudavadi and Balala and visually Raila who was not present at the time; of the four, he was the most visibly annoyed with our briefly joining them (we were actually there to have an unrelated lunch at a table next to the gazebo table where they were seated so we did the obligatory hello as we were passing by and actually had a very good chat with all but Ruto who was mum).
Be as it may, we moved on to our table after the brief chat and there I told my friend what I observed and thought: knowing he was the youngest of the four sitting there and the fifth Pentagon member who was not present but in his mind, Ruto must have surely been thinking if each ruled as president at a minimum one term, that would translate to 25 years before his turn arrived, going by the politics of the oldest first; if each ruled for a maximum two terms, he was then looking at 50 years before his turn. If you factor in the opposition taking one or two of those terms, add at least five more years, which whichever way he looked at it, he couldn’t possibly wait that long.
For this reason, I told my friend Ruto would soon have to find a way to cut the line and this could not possibly happen in ODM. The only way he could not have been thinking about this, I told my friend, was if he was given a pacifier in the form of a premiership which Ruto now claims he was promised but not given, never mind the person who he claims promised him this could not have offered him this as he was himself the Prime Minister.
My assessment of Ruto back in December 2007 to my friend and others has turned out to quite the case and I am sure others saw the same thing as Ruto has for all practical purposes abandoned ODM and seeks another path to State House shorter than what chance he has through ODM. There is one little stumbling block in the way, however, and that is the ICC.
I will in another blog analyze the political implications of the prosecution of the Ocampo Six or more relevantly, the political implications of the prosecution of Ruto and Uhuru. In this next to final part of my series on Who Is William Ruto, however, I set forth what I believe to be his defense against the charges he faces at the Hague. As I have noted above, I fully anticipate some may not understand how I can be so critical of Ruto and yet offer a defense for him or even why offer a defense at all for someone accused of serious crimes like this.
There are two things I say in response to this: First, as I have noted above and elsewhere in my blog, I have nothing against Ruto personally and even if I strongly disagree or dislike a number of things Ruto has said or done politically or otherwise, I would nonetheless still defend him over what he is charged with as a matter of principle because the accusations against him relate to when he was waring the ODM badge of honor.
This is not to say the party had anything to do with what he is charged with; it did not.
Second, in all criminal proceedings, all accused must be deemed innocent until proven guilty therefore offering a defense for someone like Ruto is not a judgment of his guilt or innocence. A good example given by criminal law professors to First Year Law students to illustrate this concept is, imagine you have graduated, set up a solo practice and someone walks into your office and says they have shot and killed their neighbor; what do you do? All sort of fancy answers are given except the one the professor is looking for: asking the person how do they know they have shot and killed their neighbor? Someone else could have fired from another direction at the same time and his bullet hit the neighbor first and therefore they are guilty of murder not the prospective client!
Be as it may be, defending Ruto is a position I have maintained from even before Ruto was publicly named as a PEV suspect as those I talk to know. Indeed, I would still defend Ruto in principle even if he were to formally leave ODM and join PNU (which he has for all practical purposes done). I will also continue pointing out the wrongs he is committing, including his ill-advised obsession with “blocking” Raila in the false hopes and belief that he could be factored into the Kibaki succession equation from the PNU side as a reward for such efforts. I will another time write a blog trying to answer the question why do politicians get so gullible they don’t know when they are being used by other politicians or if they know they are being used what does it say about their character?
For now, let me address the question what then, is Ruto’s defense against the ICC charges? First, there is the time honored defense mastered by humanity from approximately the age of 2 and onwards regardless of fact when faced with an accusation and that is simply, “I did not do it.” Given the success of this defense or lack thereof through the ages, however, especially when given reason to believe one has done what he or she is accused of as in this case where the ICC has reason to believe and has charged Ruto of committing crimes against humanity, then a more substantive and persuasive defense is necessary.
(In Part V, I will present the Ruto defense as I see it)