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Kenyan Lawmaker Plans Homecoming for ICC Suspects

Back row, former Kenyan Education Minister Ruto, left, former Kenyan Minister of Industrialization Kosgey, center, and Kenyan broadcaster Sang, right, appear at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, April 7, 2011

A Kenyan lawmaker says a “homecoming prayer rally,” which is scheduled for Monday, will be attended by the six suspects accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of masterminding the country’s 2007 post-election violence. The violence left more than 1300 people dead.

Charles Keter, who traveled in support of the accused to The Hague, denies concerns that the rally aims to politicize as well as divert attention from the alleged crimes committed by the six suspects. The rally is expected to be held at the Uhuru Park in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

“Today, we are retuning home from having been to The Hague and, after that, we are going to have prayers at the Uhuru Park, which has been planned. This is a follow-up to the first, which we had before we traveled to the Netherlands,” said Keter.

‘So, we are just basically going to say ‘Thank you’ to the people who have been praying for us, and then they say ‘Thank you’ to us, and then chat [about] the way forward for the next few months,” he added.

Organizers of the homecoming prayer rally say there will be a procession from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Uhuru Park through Jogoo Road. The main rally will kick-off at 11.30am and end at 6.30pm [local Kenyan time].

But, some political analysts have expressed concern that the rally could take on an ethnic dimension, which they say will contradict the court’s warning that the suspects should not engage in activities that may inflame tensions.

“We have been having prayers before and those people who have been criticizing are the same people [who] will never say anything good…We are not politicizing any issue. We have never politicized and we are not [going to do that]. We are basically going for prayers,” said Keter.

“Everybody is welcome for prayers. It is not ethnic [because] we have people from divergent backgrounds and that is why you can see from the MPs [Members of Parliament] who are here are not from one group. It cuts across the section of the country. We have MPs from the coast, from [the] west, from Rift Valley, from central and from everywhere. So, it is not ethnic [based],” he added.

The ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, named the six Kenyan suspects in December and asked them to appear voluntarily at the Hague-based court. They appeared before the court Thursday and Friday to face charges that include murder, rape and persecution.

The six suspects that appeared include Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey and suspended Education Minister William Ruto. The others are the Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Kirimi Muthaura, former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali and radio executive Joshua Arap Sang.

The court is expected to decide by September 1st whether the charges will proceed.

The U.N. Security Council, reacting to a request by Kenya’s U.N. representative, refused to suspend the cases against the six Kenyans.