, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – Pressure on the embattled Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Chairman Bethuel Kiplagat has deepened after his fellow commissioners ganged up to collectively demand his resignation.
They want him to step aside to allow for the formation of a tribunal to probe allegations against him.
Commissioner Berhanu Dinka told a news conference on Tuesday that the nine commissioners (including the chairman) had written to Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo asking him to request the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal to investigate Mr Kiplagat.
“In the letter all the commissioners said they have agreed that the chair will step down and then the tribunal will be set up……. we have all the nine of us unanimously said that the chair has agreed to step aside,” said Mr Dinka amid interruptions by Mr Kiplagat who said they only requested for the formation of a tribunal and not his resignation.
“If the tribunal is agreed upon and established, I will naturally follow the rule of law. If the law says that I step aside, I will do so without hesitation, but let us remain within the rule of law, he said,” said the embattled chairman.
Pressure has been piling on Mr Kiplagat to step aside, with sections of the civil society and politicians saying he has previously been adversely mentioned in the inquest into the murder of one-time foreign affairs minister Robert Ouko.
The renowned peacemaker has also been mentioned in a government report into illegal acquisition of land.
But Mr Kiplagat has insisted he has not committed any wrongs and will not resign or step aside not unless the tussle is resolved lawfully.
“If there is anyone who would be willing to take the matter to court, then I m prepared to come and defend myself,” he maintained adding that he was ready to face a tribunal to prove his innocence against the allegations put before him.
After the statement was read out he chairman immediately announced that he would not take any questions and rose to leave.
It was only after the journalists started asking other commissioners to answer questions that Mr Kiplagat resumed his seat.
From his uneasiness throughout the media briefing, it was clear that the deepening pressure in the country had seeped into the commission.
From the corners of the boardroom, Capital News heard one of the commissioners say, ‘Amekataa kutoka kwa kiti (He has refused to step aside).”
During the briefing, the commissioners who sat with him seemed displeased with his announcement that he would stay put until the inquiry asked him to resign.
The news release prepared before the press briefing also indicated that Mr Kiplagat would announce he was stepping aside.
The statement read: “The chairperson of TJRC has agreed to step aside to allow for the constitution of a tribunal of inquiry into allegations against him, the decision was reached unanmousl7y at a meet8ing of the commission held yesterday (Monday).”