Kenya: Pressure piles on Cabinet as more MPs trash watchdog list of suspects

All eyes are on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at todays special Cabinet meeting as they seek to tackle the trial of post-election violence suspects after last weeks stalemate.

The meeting was rescheduled to today after ministers disagreed last week on which way to go in addressing impunity.

The Cabinet reconvenes after criticism greeted the principals and MPs to show political will and commitment to justice.

Many observers said Kibaki and Raila must stop the Cabinet from undermining reforms and recommendations in the Waki and Kriegler reports and show a shared vision and leadership.

Similarly, the civil society asked MPs to act in the best interest of the country.

But even as they head to todays special Cabinet meeting, ministers and MPs maintained a hostile stand to the Special Tribunal Bill, dimming hopes of ever establishing a local court.

Either way, The Hague option reality inched closer with the international community piling more pressure on Kenya to establish a local court or lose donor support.

Lawyers, civil society and political observers challenged the Cabinet to agree on the nature of the tribunal, whether local, international or hybrid.

The International Centre for Conflict and Policy said Kenya was on the brink of becoming a failed state by condoning impunity.

“The current political altercation by ministers and MPs smacks outright political sabotage to the agreed reform agenda and accountability measures. Things are not right,” the centres executive director Wainaina Ndungu said.

International mechanism

Yesterday, Agriculture Minister William Ruto insisted Kenyans have no faith in local institutions.

“The envelope is at The Hague. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights has authored a shoddy report. Why would Kenyans have faith in a local tribunal?” asked Ruto.

Ruto called for a credible independent international mechanism to carry out investigation on those behind post-poll chaos and those who interfered with the election.

Separately, Lands Minister James Orengo said those who committed atrocities and human rights abuses should face the law.

Mr Orengo said Kenya has come of age and must address impunity once and for all, without fear or favour.

Time running out

“Sitting back and waiting for the International Criminal Court to intervene is not the best option. The Government must prioritise accountability on behalf of the victims,” Orengo said.

Last week, differences between ODM and PNU played out as those allied to the orange party pressed for the Special Tribunal drafted along the Rome Statues and which meets international standards.

The ministers pulled in different directions over a contentious clause in the Special Tribunal clause, which removed immunity for President and would subject him to the courts, if accused.

With time ticking away towards the September deadline by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Government is pressed against time to deliver.

Ocampo already opened the envelope and resealed it, waiting for Kenya to create a credible domestic tribunal or move in and begin investigation.

The Standard

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