Kenya ministers defend Cabinet decision

August 1, 2009 12:00 am

, MERU, Kenya, Aug 1 – Two Cabinet Ministers have told off those criticising the government over the Cabinet’s stand to settle for a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to deal with the effects of the 2008 post election violence.

Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri and his Energy counterpart Kiraitu Murungi said that the Commission was the best way to reconcile perpetrators of the post election violence and their victims.

They said they were confident the current judicial structures have the capacity to handle any criminal case against those who incited the violence and urged Kenyans to embrace the decision by the Cabinet, saying this was in the best interest of the country as opposed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

They said the sharp differences within the government on how to deal with those who masterminded the violence pointed to underlying tensions and mistrust among Kenyans that could easily translate into full blown animosity if not handled soberly.  

Prof Ongeri, who was a member of the Serena team that negotiated the agreement that saw the creation of the Grand Coalition Government, spoke of trying moments that could have seen the country plunged into full scale war had it not been for the interventions by straight headed local and international leaders.

“I was a member of the Serena team and what I saw and heard during the talks left me in no doubt that if leaders fail to reason soberly, then this country could be headed for troubled times,” Prof Ongeri said.

He expressed that trial of the post election violence perpetrators would not adequately deal with the causes of the violence and would entrench animosity.

“In a court of law, there is a loser and a winner and the two will never come together. In TJRC, people will open hearts, confess and then forgive one another,” he said.

“If people confess the wrongs they did against others and ask for forgiveness, it will be a good way of reconciliation.”

The ministers were speaking at Kanyakine High School in Imenti South on Friday during the district’s prize giving day.

Mr Murungi warned that even if the ICC was to take up the trials of the post election violence suspects, it would not solve the country’s political problems, and said a TJRC was the only way to try the culprits.

“Even in countries where the ICC had taken up similar cases like Sudan, Congo and Liberia, there were a lot of problems and this will not be in the best interest for our country,” said the Energy Minister.

The South Imenti MP said that the country was yearning for long lasting peace and stability and this could only be achieved through the TJRC.  

The umbrella church body, NCCK, a cross section of the civil society and several MPs have however disagreed with the decision by the Cabinet and accused the government of insincerity in bringing the post election suspects to justice.

The Minister hailed the improved working relationship between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga saying the move would promote peace and unity in the country.

The Minister challenged the Education Ministry to spearhead peace, healing and reconciliation through the education curriculum.  

“Education should one of the tools to promote peace and stability after the post election violence. Kenyans must forget what happened that time and forge ahead in rebuilding the nation,” said Mr Murungi.

Prof Ongeri said that his ministry had already introduced peace manuals in the education curriculum as part of the efforts to fight tribalism and promote national cohesion and peace. 


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