Election violence has been a fact of life in Kenya, while those who incite it have never paid the price for their crimes.
The International Criminal Court announced this week that it would bring charges against four prominent Kenyan nationals, including presidential contenders Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, on charges of crimes against humanity during post-election violence in 2007 and 2008.
In a pre-trial hearing, it was found that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, MP and former Education Minister William Ruto, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang would all stand trial, reported The Nation, Kenya's leading national daily newspaper.
All four men allegedly helped to organize attacks on suspected supporters of opposition groups in the 2007 presidential election. More than 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 displaced. Ruto and Sang are accused of crimes against humanity, murder, deportation, forcible transfer and persecution. Kenyatta and Muthaura are charged as indirect co-perpetrators in crimes against humanity.
Despite the charges, both Kenyatta (who is the son of Kenya's founding president, Jomo Kenyatta) and Ruto plan to run for presidential office in the next election, which is scheduled for 2013. All four men deny the charges.
The ICC dropped charges against two other suspects: MP Henry Kosgey and former police commissioner Hussein Ali.
Ruto called the ICC decision "strange" and said it would not affect his run for president, according to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
Kenya's electoral commission has still to decide whether the four accused are still eligible to run for president following the indictment.
Kenyatta wrote on his Facebook page on Monday: "I would like to reiterate before the people of Kenya and before the entire world, that my conscience is clear, has been clear and will always remain clear that I am innocent of all the accusations that have been leveled against me."
While ICC presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova emphasized that there is sufficient evidence to bring the suspects to trial, she stressed that they have not been found guilty: "It is our utmost desire that the decisions issued by this chamber today bring peace to the people of the Republic of Kenya and prevent any sort of hostilities."
No date has been set for the trials.
(Photo © Paul Vreeker for AFP/Getty Images)