- (Photo: AP Images / Bernat Armangue)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has praised Kenya for a 'miraculous' level of cooperation after a number of the country's main political leaders were charged Monday with crimes against humanity and orchestrating mass violence.
Four out of six political suspects were charged on Monday for their role in the violent clashes that followed the disputed 2007 presidential elections. Supporters of rival candidates fought with each other and with police, resulting in a string of incidents with a high death toll, including a wave of attacks right before New Year's Day in 2008. That attack left 100 people dead, as a BBC report shared.
Among those charged include two politicians aiming to run for office in the 2013 presidential elections - Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Education Minister William Ruto, The Associated Press reported. The other two high-profile figures that will stand trial are Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura and radio broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang.
The charges include orchestrating a campaign to displace, torture and kill civilians, which some reports, like the Ecumenical News International (ENI) in Kenya, claim killed up to 1,200 people and displaced 650,000 others. The clashes only came to a halt when the rival politicians vying for the presidency, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, agreed to a coalition government.
After the Kenya politicians were charged on Monday, Christian and Muslim faith leaders in the country were quick to react with calls of peace and unity.
"We call for sobriety and restraint as Kenyans engage in discussion and interpretation of the decision and its ramifications," said Rev. Peter Karanja, an Anglican priest and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
"Our political class should not fuel violence in order to help end the vicious cycle of impunity that has characterized our nation for years," he added.
The organizing secretary of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, made similar pleas in attempts to quell tensions and stop the violence from reoccurring.
"I urge Kenyans to accept the outcome. This should not be used to say that those who have been indicted are guilty," he said.
Members of the Islam faith make up only around 11 percent of the 41-million strong Kenya population, but are an important part of society, a 2009 Population and Housing census revealed. Christians are 83 percent of the population.
The Kenya Muslim National Advisory Commission (Kemnac) announced plans to bring together Muslim leaders to a national convention to discuss social, political and economic issues affecting the country, the International Islamic News Agency reported.
"There are over 300 Muslim organizations in the country. There are as many Muslims in Nyanza and Western Kenya as there are in Coast and North Eastern regions. We are organizing a national convention that would bring together Muslim elders from all the 43 tribes in the country and Muslim organizations' leaders to chart the political course for the community," Kemnac National Chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao said.
Ngao said the Muslim community will also reach out to Christian organizations in efforts to establish a number of peace and reconciliation committees in villages around the country urging communities to forgive each other, the International Islamic News Agency revealed.
The response from the Kenyan people and even the politicians charged with the crimes has been described as 'remarkable' by the ICC.
There have been no reports of new clashes and the politicians have said they will cooperate with the Court.
"The reaction was perfect. There was no problem in Kenya and even the persons charged with the crimes explained they still believe they are innocent but they will keep cooperating with the court. I think it is remarkable," ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo said.
"For the last four years, they made this miracle. They have this coalition government ... working together, when in the past they were attacking each other," he added.