Kenya: Jitters in Cabinet over Annan date

kofi_annanThe circus over possible trial of post-election violence suspects at The Hague continues this week with two Cabinet ministers getting a guided tour of International Criminal Court. (Pictured: Kofi Annan)

The haggling between the two political blocs is again about the agenda and composition of the delegation for official engagement that forms part of the healing and rebuilding the country following post-2007 election skirmishes.

The ministers also have a date with chief mediator and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Geneva, before flying to The Hague, Netherlands.

The message they are taking from Grand Coalitions two principals is a request for more time to set up a local tribunal instead of handing the envelope carrying the names of key suspects, among them ministers, to the ICC. Annans deadline is the end of this month, and if President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga wont have pulled through their second bid from last week to rally a skeptical and divided Parliament, to pave the way for a local tribunal on post-election cases. Parliament went on recess last Thursday, and resumes sittings on July 21 nine days to the deadline.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and Lands Minister James Orengo are the only ones who will constitute what could be Kenyas advance party to The Hague, after Kibaki and Raila whittled down the list from eight at a meeting in Harambee House a week ago.

The ministers scheduled meeting with Ms Silvana Arbia, Registrar of ICC, as well as exposure to ICC operations, to which they are expected to fly out this evening, has not been without drama. Arbia was chief of prosecutions in Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which investigated and tried suspected in the Central-Eastern Africa state.

Yesterday, Mutula told The Standard they wanted to familiarise themselves with the operations of the country “just in case the file on Kenyans is forwarded to the court”.

“We want to acquaint ourselves with the operations of the ICC so that we can also let Kenyans know its difference with a local tribunal,” added Mutula. Last evening, Orengo said they were headed for a meeting with Raila to deliberate on ODMs stand in the meeting with Annan and the ICC visit.

In what has become comical, the coalition partners now insist they require consensus on sensitive matters before they travel abroad.

“We are yet to agree on the purpose of the trip and any position we would take. There must be consensus on any matter the Coalition Government has to take a position or it would be billed one partners position,” Orengo said.

“We have a substantive appointment with the International Criminal Court Registrar, but while there we would seek appointment with Chief prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo and judges of the ICC,” Orengo disclosed.

Fresh frontiers

Orengo said ODM wanted to deal with real issues and not joyride. “The meeting is being planned by a ministry (Justice) that is not one of ODM (Cabinets) dockets and the partys version and consent is crucial, added the Ugenya MP.

The tussle breaks fresh frontiers but predictably plays out along familiar pattern Kibakis Party of National Unity and Railas Orange Democratic Movement.

According to sources the Harambee House meeting, which was also attended by Attorney General Amos Wako, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, resolved to trim delegation.

Initially, apart from the two ministers, the Ministry of Justice had proposed to include in the delegation its Permanent Secretary Amina Mohammed, Assistant Minister William Cheptumo, and Chairman of Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs Abdikadir Mohammed.

There was also a proposal to take along two religious leaders and local journalists to cover the two-stop tour. However, according to Government sources, Kibaki and Raila agreed Wako accompanies the two ministers to Geneva and The Hague. Mutula Kilonzo has previously insisted Kenya will not accept to be pushed around by through ultimatums.

Similarly, ministers and a section MPs have challenged Annan to take the envelope to The Hague and declare personalities named.

The fires of the fresh wrangles rose after a meeting of Serena Team yesterday during which it received an audit report of the progress agenda of implementation as agreed by the parties in the power-sharing deal.

The report of South Consulting, identified resurgence of criminal gang violence as negating gains in the enjoyment of rights and freedoms made between 2003 and 2007, and proposed they needed to be effectively guarded.

The report read in part: “While the parties continued to share Cabinet positions in line with the power-sharing agreement, divisions between the two coalition partners had deepened, leading to disillusionment among the citizenry.

Failed state

It further noted that while the establishment of the Permanent Committee on the Management of Coalition Affairs was a good attempt at resolving disputes, the Committee had not yet been used effectively.”

Mutula, who is opposed to The Hague option, argues Kenya has capacity to try its own people. “We are not a failed state and by handing over our people to the ICC we shall be telling the world that Kenya has failed, which is not the case,” added Mutula.

The Justice Minister noted that the matter of deadline that had reportedly been placed by Annan for the establishment of a local tribunal was not an issue, as they will inform him of the progress on Agenda Four.

The joint coalition management secretary Miguna Miguna is also said to be in the final list for the trip.

The Standard

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