Ruto plays down Hague threat

January 31, 2009 12:00 am

, MERU, Kenya, Jan 31 – Agriculture Minister William Ruto has termed Parliament’s move to block the government from enacting a Statute for the Special Tribunal for Kenya and its entrenchment in the Constitution, as inconsequential.

The Minister said the fact that the Tribunal was not set up before the expiry of a deadline set by the Justice Philip Waki led inquiry into the 2007 post poll violence was not dire, because the Waki Commission had ‘merely’ made recommendations on the timeframe for setting up the Tribunal, but this was not binding and was subject to review.
Mr Ruto said on Saturday that Justice Waki’s recommendations were ‘not cast in stone’ and could be applied or disregarded.

“Waki’s timeframe was merely a recommendation. In a recommendation, you can apply, amend or you can reject it,” he insisted.

Speaking at Kaguru Farmers’ Centre after launching the smallholder horticulture-marketing programme, the Minister said the recommendation had not yet been agreed upon and that the issue would be discussed by Parliament from Tuesday.

The prospects of sending perpetrators of post-election violence to The Hague became real on Thursday afternoon after MPs shot down a Motion seeking to limit the period of publication of the Bill before debate from 14 days to one day.

Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara threw a spanner in the works after he stood on a Point of Order to oppose the bid by Justice Minister Martha Karua, who sought to have the Bill establishing the Special Tribunal proceed to the Second Reading, contrary to the Standing Orders.

“In order for this House to proceed to the second reading leave of the House is required, to signify this I am supported by members behind me,” he said.

Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo, Ikolomani’s Dr Bonny Khalwale and Olago Alouch (Kisumu Town West) stood in support of Mr Imanyara.

The Standing Orders stipulate that once a Bill is introduced in the House, it must wait for a minimum of 14 days before it goes to the debate stage.

Ms Karua had wanted the time slashed to one day to enable the government beat Friday’s deadline, before the Waki envelop is sent to the International Criminal Court.

According to the Waki report; “If either an agreement for the establishment of the Special Tribunal is not signed, or the Statute for the Special Tribunal fails to be enacted, or the Special Tribunal fails to commence functioning, or having commenced operating its purposes are subverted, a list containing names of and relevant information on those suspected to bear the greatest responsibility for crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the proposed Special Tribunal shall be forwarded to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”

“The Special Prosecutor shall be requested to analyse the seriousness of the information received with a view to proceeding with an investigation and prosecuting such suspected persons.”

Mr Ruto has said it was irresponsible for some leaders to imply that the trial of those implicated could only be carried out in The Hague.

“If you are guilty, you are guilty; it doesn’t matter whether you are tried in Tanzania, Kenya or The Hague.”

While launching the Sh2 billion programme at Kariene primary school, the Minister said some politicians in the coalition government had resorted to issuing threats that ‘you will be taken to such and such a place’.

Although he did not mention names, he urged those issuing the threats to stop witch hunting.

“There are those bent on witch hunting until 2012. We should stop this and concentrate on service delivery; why did we form a coalition government?” he posed.

“Kenya is our country and we are the only ones to build it,” he added.

The Eldoret North MP also rooted for the prosecution of those implicated in the report.


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