In my column this weekend President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Trial Can Now Begin I note how despite having not achieved what the President wanted, namely, deferring, altogether terminating the cases or referring them back home for a local solution, the outcome reached at the conclusion of these efforts have made it possible for the president to avail himself for trial as this can now be done via video conference as opposed to having him hauled to the Hague and be physically present for the trial, which doesn’t sit well with many, including this writer, given presidents are not ordinarily hauled to courts and we certainly don’t want ours to be the first one.
After mounting a spirited campaign to defer the ICC cases for the second time that did not yield the outcome sought, it now appears President Uhuru Kenyatta would have to settle for being tried via video link, if the ICC so approves as it should and likely will, instead of him being physically present at trial in The Hague.
This is welcome relief for all sides mainly because it allows the trial to take place without subjecting the president to the humiliation and awkwardness of being the first sitting president to be physically hauled into an ICC courtroom to face criminal charges that many believe don’t belong there to begin with.
Uhuru would have no doubt peferred that the cases be deferred or terminated altogether but, everything considered, going forward with a trial under these terms is desirable for several other reasons.
There are those who are saying that Uhuru should nonetheless reject this compromise but that will be a huge mistake because in both local and international politics, overplaying one’s hand is always politically costly with a dear price to pay.
The compromise is good and for this, all the efforts in the second round of deferral diplomacy have, in the end, yielded not exactly the outcome the president wanted, but one everyone, including himself can live and work with knowing in all cases where give and take is necessary, nobody gets everything they want.
Most importantly, we have likely avoided a bullet headed our direction had the president not been accommodated as now has so let’s hope the trials now quietly conclude and we close this dark chapter of our history even as we open a new one full of promise, peace and prosperity.