Kenyan finance minister to stay on during ICC appeal

Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:00pm GMT

By James Macharia

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta can stay in office for now even though the International Criminal Court (ICC) says he must face trial for directing violence after a disputed 2007 election, the attorney general said on Tuesday.

Githu Muigai said the government would wait to see if Kenyatta, who wants to stand in a presidential election due early next year, succeeded in appealing the ICC ruling before making a final decision on whether he could stay in office.

Later, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference in The Hague the appeals process could take up to a year.

The cases against Kenyatta and the head of the civil service concern fighting which started after Prime Minister Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the 2007 presidential election. This sparked attacks against Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

Kenyatta, also a Kikuyu, has been indicted along with civil service chief Francis Muthaura for directing a militia to murder and rape ethnic Kalenjins and members of Odinga's Luo tribe in retaliation.

The son of Kenya's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, has said he is innocent. Muthaura said he would also appeal the ruling.

If the finance minister's legal challenge fails it could plunge East Africa's biggest economy back into political instability before a presidential election which must be held by March next year.

"This confirmation of charges is subject to appeal and the suspects have said they will appeal," Muigai, the attorney general, told a news conference.   Continued...

Kenyan Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in a file photo. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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