Kenyan MPs reject local tribunal

February 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – The main architects and financiers of last year’s post-election violence may now be tried at The Hague after Parliament rejected a Constitution Bill seeking to legalise a Special Tribunal to try them locally.

Ninety three Members of Parliament voted to shoot down the Bill, against 101 who supported it.

This in effect means that those behind the poll violence could find themselves facing trial at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The government has also an option of re-introducing the Bill after six months.

MPs defied pleas from President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who were in the House to lobby support for the Bill, by overwhelmingly voting against the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

“Honourable members we have the results of the division. The aye’s 101, the nay’s 93 and abstentions one. Total voted 194, ” the Speaker announced.

According to House rules if the government gains a majority of votes in a division but does not attain 65 percent of members (145) and the opposition’s numbers are above 35 percent (77) the motion is lost.

Since the opposition side garnered 91 votes the government lost the motion introduced by Justice Minister Martha Karua.
The government was working to beat the March 1st deadline for the tribunal to be set up as recommended by Justice Philip Waki who chaired a Commission of Inquiry into the Post election Violence.

Backbenchers and some Cabinet Ministers had vowed to ensure the Bill was thrown out of the House saying that government had rushed discussions on the Bill.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara had told Capital News that legislators opposed to the Bill would ensure they had the necessary numbers to defeat it.

“We have decided that we will provide the necessary quorum and then vote against the Bill, so Kenyans know who is for impunity. Let’s not be vague, let’s send the criminals to The Hague,” Mr Imanyara said.

Being a Constitutional Bill it can only be reintroduced in the House after six months.

It had been expected that the House would vote on the Bill on Tuesday next week following a ruling by Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim. Mr Maalim had deferred the vote after the House lacked quorum to vote for the Bill on Tuesday.

The House Business Committee which determines what comes before the Parliament however decided to go ahead with the vote.

Those who voted against the Bill were opposed to having post election violence suspect tried by a local tribunal and instead wanted them tried at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Those supporting the Bill said a special tribunal would preserve Kenya’s sovereignty.


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