Kenya: Raila: We want local tribunal

Prime Minister Raila Odinga says Government is committed to the setting up of a special tribunal to try post-election violence suspects.

Raila, in what appeared to be a response to Chief Mediator Kofi Annans August deadline to either set up the tribunal or have the names of suspects handed over to the International Criminal Court, said the Government was doing everything in its power to ensure the tribunal is set up.

Even as he said this, Gichugu Member of Parliament Martha Karua warned that the new attempts would not yield much unless President Kibaki and Raila reined in their troops.

“Let them marshall their troops and form the tribunal,” she urged.

The PM gave an assurance that the Government would soon bring back the Bill to Parliament in its second attempt to establish a domestic court to try the culprits.

The Bill was defeated by Parliament in February, with MPs expressing fears that a local court would be manipulated.

On Sunday, Speaking at Kibio Primary School in Kiharu constituency in Muranga East District during a funds drive for Kahuro ACK church, Raila said the Bill would be brought back to Parliament soon after the National Assembly completes debate on the Budget speech. Debate on the speech takes three days, meaning the Bill could be introduced as early as next week.

The envelope containing names of suspects that was handed over to Dr Annan by Justice Philip Waki who chaired the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (Cipev) is believed to contain names of ten prominent personalities, including Cabinet ministers.

Hague option

Speaking in Muranga, the PM said it is the Governments desire to have a local tribunal but said Parliament would have the last say, noting that if this fails, then there would be no option left but for Annan to hand over the envelope to the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands.

During Madaraka Day celebrations, President Kibaki enumerated the establishment of a local tribunal, as one of the reforms the Government was keen on implementing.

On her part, Karua, who was speaking during a fundraising at Thika ACK Cathedral yesterday, urged the President and the PM to rein in politicians to ensure Parliament passes the Bill this time.

“There was nothing wrong in the Bill that was rejected; there was something wrong with the politics,” said Karua, the former minister for Constitutional Affairs.

She said a local tribunal was the best option, as The Hague would only deal with high profile suspects, leaving out the majority who committed the crimes.

“Why people do not want local tribunal is because they believe The Hague will take too long. (But) again The Hague cannot take care of the many people who committed atrocities. It only takes care of the people who funded and incited the top level offenders,” she argued.

Pressure has been piling on Kenya to implement the necessary reforms, especially as enumerated in the Reconciliation Accords Agenda Four. US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jonnie Carson recently said his government was keen on seeing reforms including the formation of a local tribunal implemented.

Justify donor support

His compatriot and Congressman Russell Feingold, last week, challenged Kenya to justify official donor support by implementing key reforms. He threatened to lobby Congress to cut military support to Kenya if corruption and impunity were not eradicated. He particularly singled out the formation of a special tribunal as a way of ending impunity.

In Muranga, Raila called for unity, urging Kenyans to embrace one another regardless of tribe. He said he is enjoying cordial relationship with Kibaki, yet they were rivals in the 2007 election.

“Kibaki and I are together despite the fact that we contested for the Presidency. Elections are like a football match where you lose or win and dont keep enemies. Lets all forget what happened since Kenya is bigger than Raila or Kibaki,” he said.

He praised last weeks Budget saying it was done after consultations between PNU and ODM.

“One of the successes of the Government is that this years Budget was done after a consultation by both PNU and ODM” said the Prime Minister.

Raila, who was accompanied by Co-operatives Development Minister Joseph Nyagah and Trade Assistant Minister Omingo Magara, said the Budget was done with the spirit of devolved government in mind in efforts to empower communities at the grassroots.

Nyagah said Agenda Four of the National Accord that stipulates the various reforms that need to be implemented should be fast-tracked.

Magara called for concerted efforts between the Church and the Government to fight corruption.

Earlier Mt Kenya Central ACK Bishop Isaac Nganga said there was corruption in the Government, which, if ignored, would ruin the country.

“Only Raila and Kibaki can stop this before the country is milked dry by some people including some clerics,” said the bishop.

Additional reporting by James Ratemo and Wairimu Kamande

The Standard

Post published in: Zimbabwe News

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