Court clears ICC suspect for Kenyan vote

Feb. 15, 2013 at 11:48 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A lawyer for Kenyan political leader Uhuru Kenyatta, facing charges at the ICC, hailed a court decision Friday that clears his way for a presidential bid.

A high court in Kenya ruled Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto are eligible to take part in March 4 elections.

Kenyatta's lawyer, Evans Monari, was quoted by The Daily Nation newspaper as saying the court showed maturity in its decision.

"The ruling is a demonstration that serious ... disputes in regard to elections can be resolved by the courts," he said.

Kenyatta, a deputy prime minister, and Ruto, a former education minister, face charges in the International Criminal Court for crimes related to conflicts that erupted after disputed 2007 elections. More than 1,000 people were killed in fighting between supporters of incumbent President Mwai Kibaki against those of rival Raila Odinga.

The Kenyan newspaper reports that Odinga welcomed the opportunity to face Kenyatta at the polls.

The judges dismissed a challenge to the presidential bid saying Kenyatta and Ruto are presumed innocent until proven guilty and are therefore eligible to pursue their political ambitions.

Human Rights Watch published a report last week that said the warning signs national elections could turn violent are "too bright to ignore."

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