Kenya Cabinet fails to agree again

July 20, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – The Kenyan Cabinet failed to agree for the second time in a week on the mode of prosecuting alleged perpetrators of last year’s post election violence.

Sources privy to the goings on at State House said rivals in the Coalition government who are fronting divergent positions dug in making it impossible to reach consensus on a Bill to set up a local tribunal fronted by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo.

A dispatch from the Presidential Press Service said another meeting would take place next week to allow a team led by Mr Kilonzo to work on the proposals that were discussed at the failed meeting.

"The Ministers discussed The Rome Statute, the International Crimes Act as well as minutes of the meeting between International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo and the Government delegation on July 3," said the PPS statement.

Last Tuesday the Cabinet failed to agree on a home-based trial for the suspects with Ministers disagreeing sharply.

Some Ministers disagreed with Mr Kilonzo’s proposal of establishing a local tribunal despite his assurances that measures had been put in place to ensure it is not manipulated.

Their differences were even more evident over the weekend with Ministers and Members of Parliament supporting either The Hague or a local solution.

Parliament, which shot down the government’s initial attempt at a local tribunal in February, was set to resume sittings on Tuesday.  The MPs who voted against it said they had no faith in a local set up and that it could be easily manipulated.

On Monday morning, city Lawyer Betty Murungi said failure by the Cabinet to agree on the way forward would send a bad signal on Kenya’s quest to address the culture of impunity.

"It will just be a demonstration of unwillingness to give Kenyans an accountability mechanism," she said.

She appealed to the political class to stop fixing their minds on either of the two and focus on a local solution since engineers of the violence were too many and not all of them could be tried at the ICC.

"For those who think The Hague is this terrible place for prisoners, it’s very nice. They think it’s a place like Kamiti Maximum Prison, hell no, they (inmates) have spousal visits, and they have lap tops, heated cells, good food, way better livelihoods than most of the African population live in," she said.

Ms Murungi however cautioned politicians against making daring statements saying they should not underrate the interest Kenya draws internationally. She argued that due to Kenya’s geo-political importance, one could not be sure if International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo may decide to prioritise the Kenyan case.


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