Billionaire and controversial president of Kenyan — Uhuru Kenyatta, has arrived in Nairobi to cheering crowds a day after becoming the first sitting president to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on crimes against humanity charges.
Kenyatta was greeted on Thursday with a military honour guard as well as dancers singing songs declaring he “is innocent.”
“What is important is our unity … let us work together to improve the well being of Kenyans,” Kenyatta said in a brief speech. “We are one and there is nothing to fear, because Kenya is stable.”
Kenyatta, 52, faces five counts at the ICC over his alleged role in orchestrating unrest in 2007 and 2008 that left 1,200 people dead and 600,000 displaced.
He had been summoned to answer questions for allegedly masterminding the deadly post-election violence, with the judges to deliberate on whether to send the case to trial.
Reporters said: “The indictment of Kenyatta has been framed by his supporters and political allies as an attack to Kenya’s sovereignty and as a battle between the West and Africa.
“So they are out in the streets today cheering [his return].”
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, last month asked for an indefinite postponement of the case, saying Nairobi had refused to co-operate with a request for financial and other statements, so she did not have enough evidence for a trial.
The prosecutors want Kenyatta’s bank statements, tax records and telephone records relating to the period of unrest, believing that the information could prove Kenyatta’s alleged part in bankrolling and orchestrating the violence.
The repeatedly-delayed case has seen at least seven prosecution witnesses drop out, allegedly through bribes and intimidation.
Prosecutor Ben Gumpert said on Wednesday that since being elected, Kenyatta had “an exceptional constitutional duty to make sure that these obstructions do not take place”.
But Kenyatta’s lawyer Steven Kay said the case had “failed in a way that there’s no prospect to go further”.
Judges could also find, as the prosecution has requested, that Nairobi is not co-operating, and postpone the case pending a referral to the Assembly of States Parties of countries that have signed the ICC’s founding Rome Statute.
“There is no time limit in this type of decision. The judges will now deliberate and issue their finding in due course,” ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told the AFP news agency.