Poll chaos: Govt denies State House link

October 23, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 23 – The government has denied allegations contained in the report by the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence that claim a meeting was held in State House Nairobi to plan revenge attacks in Naivasha early this year.

In his weekly briefing government spokesman Alfred Mutua said that the allegation casts aspersions on President Mwai Kibaki by drawing him into the post election violence. He said that the claims were malicious since the commission included them in the report without ascertaining the truth.

“The president has never held any meeting with any member of the Mungiki to plan any attacks at State House or anywhere in the world,” Dr Mutua said.

The CIPEV report said two meetings were held at State House and at the Nairobi Safari Club but Dr Mutua is questioning the veracity of the claims. “How can a meeting have been held in State House before the General Election, say in September or October to plan for revenge attacks that were to occur in January 2008?” he asked.  During the Naivasha attacks, 13 people were burned to death.

The report released by the team that was led by Justice Phillip Waki has resulted in deep divisions within the political class over its implementation. Cabinet ministers and legislators remain divided over a proposal to subject suspected financiers and planners of the skirmishes to a special tribunal.

On Thursday Lugari Member of Parliament Cyrus Jirongo added his opposition to the formation of a tribunal saying that the move would only serve to divide the country more on tribal lines. Mr Jirongo said that Parliament had a responsibility to safeguard the country and guide it towards reconciliation.

“In any situation there is nothing you can discuss without peace. We as leaders must ensure there is peace. This is a document that will cause balkanisation of the country and create more tension and havoc,” the MP said, adding that he would rally parliament to block the proposal when the report is tabled in Parliament.

The Lugari legislator insisted that the sealed envelope containing the list of suspects – now under the custody of chief mediator Kofi Annan – should be reclaimed and destroyed. “We haven’t mentioned the names yet but the country is already tensed with people feeling that their tribesman are going to be victimised.”

In his Kenyatta day speech President Mwai Kibaki hinted at pardoning the perpetrators of the violence.  The President said that as much as many people wanted Justice, it must be tempered with forgiveness. Prime Minister Raila has however maintained that those in the list must face justice, a view supported by Justice Minister Martha Karua. Dr Mutua however said that cabinet was yet to take a formal stand on the issue.

However the Law Society of Kenya told Capital News that blanket amnesty would only breed resentment among those affected by post-election violence. LSK Chairman Okong’o Omogeni said amnesty for the perpetrators was dangerous and would encourage impunity. “There cannot be forgiveness for people who don’t admit any wrong doing in the first place.  The constitution does not give the president powers to forgive somebody who have not been charged,” he said.

The Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION) backed Mr Omogeni’s view and expressed concern over what they called partisan responses to the report. “Sentiments by politicians have changed in accordance to whether or not they suspect their key allies and/or enemies are on the list; and what that portends for their future political alliance and pursuit of power,” a statement signed by Chief Executive Morris Odhiambo said. 

Mr Odhiambo insisted the tribunal must be formed to give opportunity to those named in a fair process that will establish their innocence.

CLARION dismissed a claim that an implementation of the report would be a cause of further instability and violence.  “In reality, this group is warning that if an attempt is made to punish the powerful individuals, they would unleash violence against their opponents and against the people of Kenya.” 

Mr Jirongo however said that the country should urgently get a new constitution besides instituting a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to address historical injustices that have been the root of tribal chaos.


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