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Monday 2 February 2015

Jubilee, CORD leaders split over Raila Odinga’s offer to testify for William Ruto

Jubilee and Opposition MPs were divided over the willingness by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to testify in Deputy President William Ruto’s defence at the International Criminal Court ( ICC). While Jubilee leaders claimed Raila’s testimony was not needed by the Ruto team, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) MPs argued their leader’s move to make public his decision, vindicated him against accusations by the Jubilee side that he fixed Ruto and others who had appeared at The Hague-based court over the 2007-2008 post-election violence. The ODM Secretary General Ababu Namwamba said Raila’s offer would present a chance to debunk claims the former PM was responsible for the Kenyan cases being taken to The Hague. Raila, also a ODM leader, was a presidential candidate in the 2007 hotly-contested election that led to the violence in question. Ruto was also an ODM member and after the 2008 power-sharing deal, he was appointed to Cabinet. “You can never suppress the truth. The truth will eventually come out. The attack on our party leader was politically motivated to set the agenda and portray him (Raila) in bad light. Those who made false accusations against him owe him an apology,” said Namwamba. He added: “May their conscience prosecute them, may it indict them and may the public know the truth that those who fixed the Deputy President were in Government and are now sitting and dining with him (Ruto).” See also: Ruto joins mourners to console former MP Namwamba said it was ironic that the people now asking Raila to testify for Ruto, are the same ones who fought the former PM when he suggested the creation of a local tribunal to try the post-election violence suspects. Publicly confess ODM, he added, does not bear any grudge against those who falsely accused Raila but wants them to apologise and set the record straight. But, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale laughed off the sentiments, saying instead of giving “unsolicited support” to Ruto, Raila should publicly confess to having had a hand in the cases against the six Kenyans, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the international court. Duale said Ruto has a competent legal team to represent him and has already drawn his witnesses for his defence. He said Raila’s evidence is not needed. “Has Raila forgotten that this is the same man who said that both the President and the deputy are supposed to be in jail? What defence evidence is he claiming to be willing to give?” Duale asked.
The Garissa Township MP added: “Instead of presenting himself as a witness in court, he should go to church and make a confession that he was involved in some activities leading to the prosecution of Kenyans at the international court. After that he can go to Uhuru Park and seek a public apology.” He claimed Raila was making the offer “too late in the day when the case against Ruto was coming to a close”. Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki was more cautious in his comments saying even if Raila was willing to testify, it should be upon Ruto’s lawyers to gauge the worthiness of his evidence. “It is one thing for someone to express willingness to testify, but it is upon the defence lawyers to place the evidence of such a person on a scale to know if it is worth being taken before court. Naturally, unsolicited evidence is never the best,” said Kindiki. He added: “Raila’s evidence must be put to scrutiny by lawyers, especially given his public utterances about the cases at The Hague. The DP’s competent lawyers can determine if he has anything to offer in support of the defence team.” Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar (ODM) argued that Raila’s testimony in Ruto’s case would help clear ODM, and by extension Ruto, of the claim the party had a common plan to cause chaos. He maintained that the accusations that Raila fixed the ICC suspects was just political propaganda intended to mobilise ethnic communities against the former PM’s presidential bid. See also: Ruto joins mourners to console former MP “Raila was accused falsely through political theatrics and by people who wanted to mobilise their ethnic communities to stop him from ascending to power. Political theatrics were used to vilify him,” said Omar. The senator claimed those who “fixed Ruto”, who was then Raila’s ally, are well known and on the list that was presented, the CORD leader’s name does not appear. He added that Raila did not play any role in the cases at The Hague court. ODM’s Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said: “Raila has now been vindicated. Those who set up Ruto are well known and the most honourable thing to do is for those who falsely accused Mr Odinga to apologise.” Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo (ODM) claimed some of Ruto’s allies have been asking Raila to testify. “They have been pressurising him to testify on behalf of Ruto and so Raila had to say what he said. His position still stands that the violence was not planned, it was spontaneous,” said Gumbo. However, Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa claimed Raila’s offer was not genuine.

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