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‘Kenya’s probe to deter election violence in Africa’

By By Francis Obinor (with agency report)   |   10 May 2010   |   1:37 pm  
A MONTH after Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized a probe into Kenya’s post election violence, prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said the ongoing inquiry would deter other African countries from holding volatile polls.

According to him the investigations would send out a signal to 15 African countries that are scheduled to hold elections in the next 18 month and discourage them from violence.

Past elections in Africa have often been plagued by political violence. Ethiopia, which is to hold elections this month, has struggled with election irregularities and violence, notably in the aftermath of 2005 general elections when security forces killed 193 protesters. An opposition candidate was stabbed to death in northern Ethiopia in March.

Rwanda, which is scheduled to hold elections in August, has had a series of explosions from grenade attacks in the capital in February and March that killed one and injured scores. Rwandan authorities could not say whether the attacks are related to politics.

“Kenya will send out a signal to all these elections – if you commit crimes then you go to the Hague,” Moreno Ocampo said.

Moreno Ocampo is currently in Kenya to investigate the country’s 2007-2008 election violence that killed more than 1,000 people.

More than 1,300 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced after a disputed election in 2008.

Moreno Ocampo is expected to meet victims of the upheavals and senior government officials during his five-day tour.

It is his first visit to the country since judges at the ICC gave him the go-ahead to investigate.

The prosecutor, who will also meet civil society groups and the business community, suggested that as few as two or three people would be prosecuted.

Moreno-Ocampo has said he believes crimes against humanity were committed during the violence.

Moreno Ocampo said his investigations in Kenya are important to ensure the country holds peaceful elections in 2012. He said he expects his investigation to take between the six and seven months.

Upon completing his investigations, Moreno Ocampo said he expects to prosecute no more than five people – those who are found to bear the most responsibility for the violence.

He said 30 to 50 witnesses will provide evidence for the charges. Ocampo said the ICC will provide security for the witnesses.

The Kenyan government has the responsibility to provide security for witnesses whose lives may be in danger but who are not in the ICC’s list, he said.

Several Kenyan witnesses of the 2007-08 violence have said they lack faith in the ability of Kenya’s witness protection program.

Moreno Ocampo said he would not record statements from witnesses during his visit in Kenya, adding that the purpose of his visit was to meet with victims of the violence to understand their views and concerns. He also plans to listen to concerns of the people who think they are suspects in the ICC probe.



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