Tuesday, October 21, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
October 21, 2008

Kenyans have unprecedented capacity to debate issues of public interest especially if they are of a political nature. This trait was more evident when the Kriegler and Waki Commission reports that investigated election fraud and the violence that followed were released. In a matter of hours, the media was awash with all shades of opinions and interpretations.

In the case of the Waki Report, what was baffling was the capacity of our expats and intellectuals to rush with opinions on a 525 page document! How did they read, digest and analyze this big document in so short a time? There are two interpretations to this; either they were pressured by media houses to rush through the document for scoops or; most of these expats were idlers with nothing better to do and therefore a document of this nature was a godsend to while away time.

The Waki report as it stands now poses many challenges to the establishment. But before I proceed with my contribution, let me take this early opportunity to join millions of Kenya in giving credit to Justice Philip Waki for a job well done. Under the circumstances, no other team could have done a better job despite tantrums being thrown about by hired guns masquerading as legal expats.

The Waki team had a well defined term of reference; to investigate the circumstances and causes of the post election violence, identify planners, sponsors, perpetrators and executors of the mayhem in all parts of the country. They were also required to provide the way forward and recommend deterrent measures to curb such excesses in the future. In their four month assignment; they did just that.

They traversed the country, met people who had gone through the harrowing ordeals, interviewed victims, examined remains and body parts of dead victims, talked to rape and sodomy victims and even summoned state security agents to tell their story why such a catastrophe was allowed to take place.

They called every person they thought could shed light of the tragic event. Some highly placed people obliged. Others declined. Among those that declined were former president Daniel arap Moi and his successor Mwai Kibaki.

Based on the evidence gathered, a number of what sounded like rumors in the pre-election period were confirmed as fact. Yes indeed there were two types of violence; some premeditated and ethnic in nature while others were spontaneous and political. Most premeditated violence occurred in the Rift Valley where land disputes between the Kalenjins, Kikuyus and Kisiis have been thorny since independence. This was also the case in the Coast region.

In Nyanza, the mayhem was spontaneous and political in nature driving the youth to vent their anger on any symbol of an oppressive system. In the process they destroyed and looted public and private property alike. As they did this, the State agents unleashed state terror and shot at least 400 fleeing unarmed youths; some at close range from their backs.

The Waki report captures the highlights of this atrocity. It details the burning of a Kikuyu filled church in Eldoret town by Kalenjin youths. It talks of the 3000 Administration Police deployed throughout the country to rig elections for PNU. It talks of police in uniform raping and mutilating the private parts of helpless women already in refugee camps. It details how protectors unleashed terror on their victims. This was the tragedy that Waki dealt with.

In dealing with premeditated massacres, the Waki report not only details how some of these atrocities were planned and executed in private homes in Rift Valley; but it also details how the Naivasha and Nakuru reprisal massacres were planned at State House in Nairobi where top government officials and top politicians from Central Province hired the services of an outlawed Mungiki sect to carry out the killings of non Kikuyus in Naivasha and Nakuru.

Now that the Waki Report has been presented to the Head of State and the Prime Minister; now that the confidential list of masterminds and known executors has been handed over to the United Nations in New York, how do we deal with the report?
Whichever way one would like to look at it; Philip Waki has tied the hands of the government. The Kibaki government has been placed between a rock and a hard place.
The main import of the Waki report is to deal with impunity of a political nature once and for all. It wants to set a precedent that if you organize killings for political purpose, you must pay dearly for it.

The handing over of the list of suspected criminals to the UN meant only one thing; to give Kenya a chance to set up its own international tribunal and try these criminals at home or risk the same names being hunted down and shipped out to The Hague for the ICC trials.

The reason the international tribunal should try these cases is to provide unbiased judicial process to give the suspects a chance to clear their names or plead guilty. It will also remove the usual Kenyan style of crying foul when caught committing crimes claiming that their tribes are being targeted.

Whichever way one would look at it; it will surely test the survival of the coalition to its limits with suspects putting up a spirited fight both legal and propaganda to save their skins. If we go through this and survive as a nation; we shall have emerged a stronger nation. It is a necessary baptism of fire we must go through with commitment, open mind and determination.



Anonymous said...
October 27, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

As we watch the Americans making history in this year's elections and China and India stars rising as upcoming world powers, its sad to see Kenya still engrossed in very basic aspects of justice for its citizens.The worst part is that the leaders chosen by Kenyan people to stear them achieve an economic turn around are the same people who are helping defeat the cause of our nation.Failing to impelement recommendations by the Waki and Kriegler commissions is equal to setting up our nation for failure and a void future decorated with impunity and lack of respect for nationals and collective nationallity.