Foreign governments must decide how to interact with Kenya's newly elected president, Uhuru Kenyatta, because of his indictments at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Protocol dictates that the governments of many countries, including the United States, do not directly deal with anyone charged with the world’s worst crimes.
But Kenya is one of the West’s most important allies in sub-Saharan Africa, a stalwart in the fight against militant Islam, and a regional powerhouse hosting international investors, aid agencies, and more than a million tourists a year.
“It’s going to be very complicated,” says Gladwell Otieno, a leading Kenyan rights campaigner and director of the Africa Center for Open Governance. “Kenya’s partners have spelled out their positions on ICC indictees, but at the same time their relationship with us is so close and so important, especially on questions of security and antiterror, that they are truly in a dilemma.”
ICC prosecutors have charged Mr. Kenyatta with five counts of crimes against humanity that include “indirect co-perpetration” of murder, rape, and persecution, over his alleged involvement in aspects of the violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 election.
His deputy president, William Ruto, separately faces three similar counts.
Both men deny the charges and have repeatedly pledged to cooperate with the court’s proceedings.
Despite this, the pair’s Jubilee Alliance coalition has repeatedly painted the trials as assaults on Kenya’s sovereignty, even going so far as to suggest last week's elections were a referendum on the court’s right to investigate Kenya’s affairs.