Nairobi, December 16, 2010 (FH) - Kenya's leading dailies and rights groups welcomed the International Criminal Court's naming of six top perpetrators of a post-poll unrest there that left some 1,000 people dead.

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The world court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo named the son of Kenya's founding president Uhuru Kenyatta, President Mwai Kibaki's top aide Francis Muthaura, and suspended minister William Ruto as the key planners of the violence that followed a disputed presidential election in December 2007.

Moreno-Ocampo also singled out Henrey Kosgey, the chairman of Prime Minister Raila Odinga's party, former police chief Hussein Ali Mohammed and vernacular radio presenter Joshua arap Sang as having played leading roles in the chaos that also uprooted more than a quarter million people from their homes.

"With the arm of international justice reaching this far, there is a possibility the country could be reborn to meet the challenges of justice for the voiceless majority," wrote Okech Kendo, a columnist with the Standard, a major Kenyan daily.

"For the first time there is a real possibility real justice could be in sight," he added.

Kenya's leading newspaper, The Daily Nation, criticized politicians who were clamoring in the eleventh-hour to support the formation of a local court to try the chaos suspects and who accused Moreno-Ocampo of having political motivations in targeting the six.

"The international intervention only kicked in after the selfsame politicians who are now crying foul sabotaged attempts to establish a local special tribunal," the paper wrote in an editorial.

All the six suspects denied playing any roles in Kenya's worst violence since independence from Britain in 1963, but pledged to cooperate with the ICC should summonses be issued for them to appear.

Gladwell Otieno of the political watchdog AfriCOG said: "We urge all Kenyans to be confident in the ICC process and be calm since justice will follow its course."  

The Star, another Kenyan daily, called for the resignation of the public officials named by the ICC prosecutor, noting that other government ministers recently accused of corruption and other crimes had stepped aside pending investigations.

"We cannot have double standards," it said. "Either ministers and government officials being prosecuted for criminal offences are allowed to remain at work, or they should stand down until the case is decided."

Violence erupted days after a peaceful December 27, 2007 voting when incumbent Kibaki was declared the winner of the polls, sparking fierce accusations by then opposition chief Odinga that his rival had rigged his re-election.

The turmoil was resolved by a power-sharing agreement between Kibaki and Odinga mediated by former United Nations Secretary general Kofi Annan. The deal saw Odinga named the prime minister and Kibaki remain president.


© Hirondelle News Agency