Kenyan ministers named as suspects in ethnic bloodshed
The International Criminal Court prosecutor has named six Kenyan leaders as suspects behind the machete, gun and bow-and-arrow attacks that followed Kenya's 2007 presidential vote.
The president urged calm and security forces were on high alert, knowing yesterday's announcement by prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo risks igniting another round of tribal warfare.
The son of Kenya's founding father - the current deputy prime minister - was among the six suspects, as was former higher education minister William Ruto, whose Kalenjin tribe in the volatile Rift Valley is a possible source of new violence.
Mr Moreno Ocampo wants the ICC to charge the six with crimes against humanity including murder, rape and torture. Judges will study the prosecutor's evidence and make their decision early next year.
Kenya spiralled into violence shortly after president Mwai Kibaki was named the winner of a December 2007 election that supporters of opponent Raila Odinga said was rigged.
More than 600,000 people were forced from their homes and more than 1,000 people were killed.
"We have been waiting for this announcement for a long time," said Stephen Kimani, who heads a group of 300,000 Rift Valley residents forced from their homes during the violence.
The attacks were believed to have been ordered by top politicians, but no Kenyan leaders were ever held to account after parliament quashed an attempt to set up a tribunal.
Mr Moreno Ocampo alleged Ruto began plotting attacks on supporters of Mr Kibaki a year before the election and worked together with industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and radio broadcaster Joshua Sang to co-ordinate a campaign of killing and forced deportations in the Rift Valley.
In a separate case, Mr Moreno Ocampo charged deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta - son of Kenyan independence hero Jomo Kenyatta - Cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura and former police commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali. They are suspected of murder, deportation, persecution, rape and inhumane acts in retaliation against supporters of Mr Odinga, the current prime minister.
Ethnic tensions in Kenya have simmered for decades, with much of the violence traced back to the desire for land. After independence in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta sent masses of his Kikuyu group to occupy land in areas of the Rift Valley native to the Kalenjin tribe.
Three of the six suspects Mr Moreno Ocampo named come from the Kalenjin tribe, the group Ruto is a leader of. The Kalenjins dominate the Rift Valley and the reaction to the charges there will be key to Kenya's peace in coming days.
Ruto said yesterday that his "conscience is clear".
Clashes erupted along tribal lines following an announcement that Kibaki - a Kikuyu -won a vote opponents said was rigged.A bloodbath was stopped only after former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan mediated a peace agreement that created a coalition government in which Odinga was appointed prime minister.
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