Monday, January 26, 2009



By David Ohito

All eyes shift to Parliament ahead of the Thursday deadline for enacting statutes establishing a special tribunal to try post-election violence suspects.

With just four days left for Kenya to enact the law to set the Special Tribunal, some politicians and senior civil servants anxiously await to know names of suspects listed in Waki’s dreaded envelope.

Cabinet ministers, MPs, senior Government officials and businessmen are said to be among 10 individuals named in a sealed envelope handed to Dr Kofi Annan last October.

Activities have been heightened ahead of the tabling of the crucial laws contained in the statute for the Special Tribunal. President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are expected tomorrow to mobilise their troops to support the law.

The two principals will attend an informal meeting (Kamukunji) at old Chambers to drum up support from MPs.

What if it flops?

The law requires support of at least 148 or two-thirds of the 222 MPs to sail through. If the initiative to establish a local tribunal flops, the suspects will have to go to The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of the International Criminal Court.

ODM has summoned its Parliamentary Group meeting an hour ahead of the Kamukunji to rally them to adopt a common stand.

The party’s Chief Whip, Jakoyo Midiwo, said: "ODM MPs convene at 9am to compare notes before heading to the joint meeting of all MPs."

Conscious of the restrictive timetable established by Justice Philip Waki, who recommended the tribunal, Kibaki did not prorogue Parliament when the House adjourned for Christmas.

According to Attorney General Amos Wako, this enabled early recall of Parliament by Speaker Kenneth Marende to conclude implementation of the recommendations of the commissions formed to probe post-election chaos.

Besides fast tracking the formation of a new electoral body following the disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, the recall session was intended to debate and adopt the Waki Report on causes of post-election violence.

Among other issues, it recommends police reforms and establishment of the tribunal. It also recommends a timetable whose activities began to roll on October 16 last year when Justice Waki published his damning report.

In partial fulfilment of these recommendations, Kibaki and Raila signed an agreement establishing the special court and undertook to steer police reforms.

The agreement contains five articles.

It also provides that any person in public office indicted for crimes from the 2007 violence shall be suspended from office until the matter is concluded. If convicted, the individual would be barred from holding public office.

The agreement also roots for the establishment [before 2012] of an early warning mechanism to track impending strife. It okays mobilising parliamentary support for the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act and administrative measures to implement the Witness Protection Act and International Crimes Bill/Act 2008.

‘Exclusive ministers’

Last week, the Cabinet failed to agree conclusively on the clauses, prompting the draft Statute for Special Tribunal to be referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs and Administration.

Lands minister James Orengo, a member of the Serena team of negotiators, said: "The earliest the Bill can be tabled is Thursday."

It has also emerged that the "Serena Team" could be kicked out of the process of composing a local tribunal.

A meeting between the negotiators and the parliamentary Departmental Committee on Legal Affairs and Administration of Justice resolved to have the team of eight "exclusive" ministers replaced by the committee.

The committee and the ministers failed to agree on contentious issues after a daylong meeting last Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and ministers, Ms Martha Karua, Mr William Ruto, Dr Sally Kosgei, Prof Sam Ongeri, Mr James Orengo, Mr Mutula Kilonzo and Mr Moses Wetang’ula are members of the Serena team.

Another meeting to iron out thorny issues has been called for today at 2.30pm.


Yesterday, the committee chairman Abdikadir Mohamed said there was consensus that his committee will assume the roles set aside for the Serena team.

It will be the second time the team will be relegated to the periphery in a process they have been steering due to mistrust between the Executive and Parliament.

"We acknowledge the role of the Serena team in the entire process. However, it is a general consensus that we take over their roles," Abdikadir said.