Kenya's March 2013 elections will be the most complex the country has ever faced.
The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indictment of presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto has boosted their popularity among parts of the Kenyan electorate that dispute ICC allegations that the post-election violence of 2007–08 was pre-planned by organized ethnic networks.
The Rome Statute, which established the ICC, removes the immunity that a serving head of state might otherwise enjoy under national or international law. As Kenya is party to the Rome Statute, even if Kenyatta and Ruto are elected as president and vice president, they will still be subject to the rulings of the court.
The ICC's requirement for defendants to attend hearings at The Hague on a full-time basis would severely impede the ability of an indicted elected official to deploy the duties of their office. In past cases where heads of state or government have been indicted by international courts, they have stepped down from their positions of authority while their trials take place.
It is not possible to predict how long the ICC trials of Kenyatta and Ruto will take, but past cases at the court have taken at least three years to complete. There is a significant chance that the trials will still be an issue for Kenya's general elections in 2018.
The case of Sudan demonstrates the difficulty that international partners face in maintaining normal economic and diplomatic relationships with countries whose head of state have been charged by the ICC.