Nairobi, April 24, 2012 (FH) – Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared on Tuesday in a State of the Nation address in Parliament that the government was still pushing for the four prominent Kenyans facing crimes against humanity charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be tried in Kenya instead of the Hague.

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Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, member of Parliament William Ruto, former Secretary to the cabinet, Francis Muthaura and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang have been charged with crimes against humanity for their role in 2007/08 post-election violence that left at least 1000 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

“I am also aware of the concerns that the upcoming ICC cases have caused among Kenyans.  I am also cognizant of the fact that this House passed a motion that Kenya pulls out of the ICC.  Victims of post-election violence deserve justice. The Kenyans facing trials also deserve a fair and legal hearing”, he declared.

He added that the government was pursuing “the option of having a local mechanism to deal with any international crimes”. However, there has been no official announcement yet of such a local option. 

The ICC took over the cases after Kenya failed to establish a local tribunal to prosecute the suspects. Since then, the government has claimed that its newly reformed judiciary was competent enough to handle the cases.

The country in general and Parliament in particular is hugely polarized over plans by two of the ICC suspects – Kenyatta and Ruto – to vie for president in general elections slated for next year. Some cabinet members have urged the two to drop their presidential ambitions while their supporters urge them to run.