Tuesday, July 14, 2009



Samson Ntale in Kampala &
Lucianne Limo in Nairobi

July 13 2009

I will open Kenya’s sealed envelope and spill the beans this week, Chief Prosecutor of International Criminal Court Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo promised the world. "(The Waki envelope) is already in my office in Geneva," he said in Kampa from Dr Kofi Annan. "When I return I will open it and let the public know the details."

Asked if he knew the names in the secret envelope he replied: "As of now, I do not know because I have not opened it... It is only when I return that I will know the details and release them for publication."

He revealed the Kenya Government was pushing for creation of special local courts modelled alongside a failed Ugandan effort. The courts would allow local trials faithful to the Rome Statute that created the ICC to run parallel with prosecutions in The Hague.

"This is one of the issues to be examined in our meeting with President Museveni," Ocampo explained.

Another was the question of arresting Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir if he visits Uganda. The ICC has issued warrants of arrest for al-Bashir on war crimes charges related to the Darfur conflict. The Sudanese leader is among a group of heads of State expected in Kampala next week.

Uganda’s Minister for International Affairs Mr Henry Okello said his country was ready to enforce the warrants.

"Uganda is obliged to arrest Bashir like any other country signatory to ICC," he said. "Now it’s the duty of the police here to execute the arrest. So let us wait and see what happens when Al Bashir comes here... While Uganda committed to its obligation, Bashir on the other hand is not a chicken thief who you will arrest in dishonourable manner."

The news from Uganda will be discomforting to ministers attending the special Cabinet session today under stewardship of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on how to whip the a unreceptive Parliament and sceptical citizenry behind what it now calls the Independent Local Tribunal.

Ocampo’s latest promise must have struck at the heart of Kibaki and Raila, as five or six of the confidants they handpicked to Cabinet are said to be in the list drawn by Justice Philip Waki’s Commission. It is bound to poison the political environment by inflaming passions in the country, further complicating their bid to sidestep The Hague by beating Annan’s August deadline for a local tribunal. There is also a standing deadline set by Ocampo by which he must get status of investigations and prosecutions. Last week Kenya assured Ocampo she would comply with the order, over which she has been procrastinating.

By spilling the beans, Ocampo could open up another warfront between the two key planks of the fractured Grand Coalition -- President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement -- which could in turn entrench divisions in Cabinet and Parliament.

Already two ministers - Mr William Ruto (Agriculture) and Mr James Orengo (Lands) - have taken the position little would be achieved if poll violence is dealt with and those who turned 2007 elections into a fine mess let to go free.

Eyeing the presidency

"For Kenya to deal firmly, fairly and finally with events during and after elections and for everybody to have a feeling justice has been done, the Government must conduct investigations on elections offences by election officers, corrupt practices, illegal actions and other general offences revolving around election officials," Orengo said on Sunday.

It does not help matters that Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, who leans on the PNU side, is being accused of enraging Dr Annan and precipitating his surprise dispatch of the sealed letter to Ocampo. After Kenya’s delegation meeting with Annan last week in Geneva, Mutula came back and told the country there was another option - the possibility of trying through a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission with trial authority. It is expected that the issue of how Kenya infuriated Annan will crop up in Cabinet, with the possibility of further splintering the country’s top decision-making organ.

"Those who planned for rigging by paying and using the (disbanded) Electoral Commission should be first, followed by those who created the chaos," Ruto said.

Finally, because at least 12 ministers are said to be eyeing the presidency in 2012, it could be argued that those who won’t be on the list would not be expected to help make it easy for their potential opponents, and so behind the scene, they could push for The Hague option.

The Hague-based court indicted al-Bashir in March "for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co) perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property. This is the first warrant of arrest ever issued for a sitting Head of State by the ICC."

"There is a warrant of arrest for al-Bashir deposited in the office of Solicitor General here," said Okello, adding, "we have gone ahead to inform Khartoum authorities that we have a warrant of arrest for their leader in the names of Omar Al Bashir."

Last week, Uganda Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kutesa was reported to have expressed Uganda’s unwillingness to arrest Bashir saying they would have wait for findings of the Thabo Mbeki-ed Africa Union (AU) committee. But Ocampo dismissed efforts by AU believed to save Bashir as not binding, saying "AU body is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which gave birth to the ICC."