Kenyan MPs frustrate special courts Bill again

December 2, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 2 – Debate on the Special Tribunal Bill that seeks to create a court to try post election violence suspects ended prematurely once again on Wednesday due to lack of quorum.

Only three MPs contributed to the debate before Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, who has sponsored the Bill was called upon to conclude discussions on the Bill.

Those who contributed and supported it include Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyong’o, nominated MP Sheikh Muhammad Dor and former Justice Minister Martha Karua, who accused her colleagues “of sitting on the fence” by their conspicuous absence in the chamber.

 “It is cowardly of the Executive, ministers and MPs to stay away from the chamber and not come here to declare on which side they are… whether they are for the local tribunal or not and the reasons thereof,” the Gichugu MP said.

Following the hitch, Mr Imanyara accused the Executive of sabotaging the Bill but said those who are behind the killings will face justice one day.

All but 18 MPs stayed away from House during debate on the crucial Bill, confirming suspicions that opposition to the special court is still strong in Parliament.

“The culture of impunity must come to an end and indeed Madame Speaker it will come to an end one day. It may not be today but let these people out there claiming victory because this Bill has not passed sleep one more night thinking that the culture of impunity has succeed because it has not succeeded,” he said.

After waiting for five minutes for members to come to the House to constitute the requisite quorum, Temporary Alternate Speaker Margaret Kamar ended the morning session prematurely.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill requires a two-thirds majority vote at the Third Reading (Committee of the Whole House) to pass. This means securing 145  votes.

In February, Parliament resoundingly rejected a government-sponsored Bill with a similar objective.

Fearing another failure, the Cabinet rejected Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo’s plan to table a second Bill in July. Instead, ministers chose to explore other mechanisms that would not require MPs’ approval.

But in his contribution, Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyong’o said the House should rethink its stand on the matter by justifying the merit of a local and a foreign process for justice.

He said the House must take responsibility by creating an institution that will deal with the alleged crimes that occurred during the post poll period.

“This Parliament was categorical that a local process will not be fair, just or transparent. This Parliament joined a national chorus saying ‘Don’t be Vague go to The Hague. That is history it can’t be falsified.  As we stand here today we must confess and say we made a false step we should have looked at the issue more critically and made the necessary amendments,” said Prof Nyong\’o.

Parliament’s boycott comes days after International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested ICC judges to open investigations on Kenya case.


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