Tuesday, October 21, 2008



OCTOBER 21, 2008

By Beauttah Omanga

Leaders reacted with fury to President Kibaki’s proposal that those implicated in the Waki report be pardoned.

LSK chairman Okong’o Omogeni, lawyers Paul Muite, Wanyiri Kihoro and Harun Ndubi said implementation of the Waki report was a must if the country was to avoid a recurrence of post-election violence.

The lawyers warned that if the Coalition Government failed to make use of the opportunity given by the Waki Commission to set up tribunals to try the suspects, chances were high that the International Court of Justice would take over the matter.

"President Kibaki should be warned that the ICC (International Criminal Court) can make a follow-up of the cases even after he leaves office. The best for him is to implement the report," said Mr Ndubi, a human rights lawyer.

Kenya’s future doomed

Mr Omogeni said Kenya’s future was doomed if the Waki Report was not implemented immediately.

"What connection does a new constitution have to do with crimes committed early in the year?" he asked.

German Ambassador Walter Lindner, who attended the Kenyatta Day celebrations, said it was important for action to be taken against those implicated to address impunity.

"The fact that President Kibaki and two of his key opponents to his throne in last year’s elections were together today (yesterday) addressing a national day from the same podium is a true confirmation of the right direction towards healing for Kenya. However, those who caused bloodshed must face the law," he said.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka and Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu demanded that those named be prosecuted.

"Kenyans died and the only consolation we can give bereaved families is having those who plotted the chaos prosecuted," said Mr Onyonka.

Mr Waititu said it was wrong for the President to advocate amnesty, saying: "That amnesty should be given after those who killed have admitted they committed offences and then openly apologise."

Whose interest?

Mr Muite, a former Kabete MP, challenged the President to explain on whose interest he was acting.

The leaders petitioned the international community to take over the report and implement it to save Kenyans.

"Our image in the international community will be tarnished if we don’t act now," said Omogeni.

Mr Kihoro, a former Nyeri MP, said the President’s proposal was premature.

"The President has powers to set free prisoners. He should have waited for those suspects to be tried and convicted to invoke Section 35 of the Constitution to extend clemency to those imprisoned," said Kihoro.

But Cabinet ministers Kiraitu Murungi and Najib Balala supported the President and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s position of forgiveness for the sake of national cohesion.

However, Kiraitu said the Waki Report touched on weighty issues that called for sober handling.

"The issues are too important yet very delicate with the possibility of drawing the nation into danger again," he said.

Balala said: "The issues Waki came up with were of national importance and it is only the Cabinet that will determine the next course of action".

Talking to reporters at Nyayo Stadium after the celebrations, the Tourism minister said there was need for an overhaul of ECK, with all parties having a hand in the appointment of new commissioners.

He said it was necessary to rally Kenyans behind unity and forgiveness.

Onyonka said given that the commissions had been formed to help establish causes and those behind the mayhem and "we must know who were behind the chaos even if they will not necessarily be prosecuted".

He said if blanket amnesty was given to the criminals, it would be difficult to deal with impunity in future.