Friday, January 30, 2009



By David Ochami and Peter Opiyo

The Government suffered a blow as it missed deadlines set by the Waki Report to create a Special Tribunal to try post-election violence suspects.

And faced with the risk of having ministers and suspects tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it was exploring options for extending the deadlines.

The Special Statute Tribunal for Kenya Bill, 2009 was blocked on technical grounds in the House, yesterday.

In a tactful understanding of the House Standing Orders, Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central, CCU) objected to fast-tracking discussion on the Statute Bill and Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2009, denying the House a chance to debate them.

The former sought to establish the tribunal, while the latter was to anchor it in the Constitution. To beat today’s deadline, the Government has no option than to speed the two Bills.

But rising on a point of order, Imanyara objected to the move, saying the House was not ready to grant leave to debate the two Bills.

Speaker Kenneth Marende referred to Standing Order No 99 and declared Imanyara’s move legal, thus denying the House the opportunity to establish the court.

According to this Standing Order, a member can object to the House granting leave to speed up a Bill as long as he is supported by at least two members.

Imanyara had Mr Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West, ODM), Mr Charles Kilonzo (Yatta, ODM-K) and Dr Bonny Khalwale (Ikolomani, New Ford-K), among others.

Mr Marende then ruled: "Imanyara doesn’t have the sympathy of the Chair because he has the numbers."

Earlier, Justice Minister Martha Karua had moved three procedural Motions that extended yesterday’s sitting and fast tracking the publication date of the Bills. House rules require that a Bill can only be debated after the lapse of 14 days since its publication. But the House can change this. And Parliament effectively did this by reducing the publication date to one day to give opportunity for the debate and passage of the two Bills.

Tabled bills

Karua only managed to table the Constitution of Kenya (Ammendment) Bill, 2007 and the Statute for the Special Tribunal at the first readings.

But Imanyara objected that the Bills go through the second and third readings in yesterday’s single session. Since Parliament does not sit today, technically, the opportunity to establish the Tribunal is lost.

On Tuesday, Parliament had laid the ground for the establishment of the Tribunal by adopting the Waki Report.

It also enacted the International Crimes Bill that domesticated the Rome Statute and defined international crimes, paving way for the establishment of the tribunal.

And The Standard has established that the move to stop debate on the formation of the tribunal was mooted by backbenchers from both sides of the House in the last two days.

Several MPs told The Standard on condition of anonymity that the move was aimed at "teaching" the President a lesson for slighting Parliament over the reappointment of Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya to the Cabinet.

"I have been told by some MPs that they are unhappy with Kibaki over the Kimunya issue. That is why they behaved that way," a minister told us.

The MPs, who spoke after stopping debate on the two Constitution Bills, said Parliament had no confidence in Kimunya

Earlier, while delivering a ruling on Kimunya’s reappointment, Mr Marende said the Motion of censure in which a no confidence vote was passed against Kimunya still stands.