Friday, July 17, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
July 14, 2009

President Kibaki must be regretting having appointed Mutula Kilonzo as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Every morning the President wakes up, he finds Mutula has shot himself on the foot claiming imaginary powers to direct Kenya’s cause of events at The Hague.

Kenyans are beginning to feel like that ministry is being run by endless press briefings that the new minister craves for every other day. To make it worse, statements made at those briefings sound so rehearsed and predictable that today it is difficult to pay attention to Mutula’s utterances.

Since their return from Geneva and The Hague a week ago, Mutula Kilonzo has addressed the press no less than five times on the this Hague affair. First he lied to Kenyans that his delegation had negotiated a 360 day extension from Moreno Ocampo the lead ICC prosecutor after meeting Kofi Annan in Geneva. Only for Annan to hand over the envelope to Ocampo a few days later.

Much as he has tried to downplay the Annan action, it was not lost on Kenyans that all along, handing over the envelope to the ICC was the clearest sign that the Kenya government had failed to constitute a local tribunal to try suspects of the 2007-2008 political violence. What was disgusting however was Mutula’s fretting around masquerading as the man on top of things trying to bulldoze some semblance of a solution to circumvent The Hague trials.

Kibaki must be beginning to see through the lies that misled him to appoint this political greenhorn to the all important ministry. The President is now paying the price of listening to cronies who would rather see incompetence next to the throne as long as it is serving their interests.

To Mutula’s dismay, a special Cabinet convened to discuss his proposal declined to discuss the flawed document. Sources coming from the same meeting indicated a fractured cabinet that had no faith either in Mutula’s ill conceived efforts or the local tribunal.

What Mutula is forgetting is that this Hague thing is not a matter for the cabinet or the President and the Prime Minister to decide. The horses had bolted out of the stable the day the Local Tribunal Bill was defeated in Parliament in January 2009.

Since then , the mood of Kenyans and their MPs has not changed. The more reason why Kenyans are wondering aloud in which country Mutula Kilonzo lives for him to imagine that he is the new miracle worker in things political in this country.

If the truth be told; there will either be a Hague trial for post election suspects or nothing at all. The fate of any local court has been sealed. Kenyans don’t want it. IDPs have rejected it. Suspects like William Ruto are craving for The Hague.

Ordinary Kenyans and their MPs have vowed to ensure it is The Hague or nothing. Somebody should pass this simple and obvious message to Mutula Kilonzo in his mother tongue since he cannot get what Kenyans are saying in English and Kiswahili.

Mutula Kilonzo should learn some restraint in his utterances. He may be the best lawyer this country ever produced but I doubt whether he knows the difference between legal practice and playing politics. Law is a profession while politics is a game. The rules of the game in politics are different from those of the courtroom.

As a minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, there are sensitive areas that need a bit of finesse. When dealing with international statesmen like Annan or international professionals like Ocampo, one needs to watch his language. Belittling them in front of the media cheapens the minister and makes the country look really bad in the eyes of the world.

Of late Mutula has been snipping at Annan and Ocampo for interfering with Kenya’s sovereignty. With all due respect, Kenyans are at a loss which sovereignty it is that Mutula wants to protect when he knows we lost it the day international mediators descended on Kenya to put out the fire two years ago.

In the last six years of KANU losing power, Kenya has had three ministers for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Of the three, Mutula is proving to be the most reckless with words. Compared to Kiraitu Murungi and Martha Karua before him, I would rather have Murungi or Karua any time. At least they were solid political activists before they joined the cabinet. They knew the pain of the second liberation in the trenches and in the opposition benches.