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Amnesty debate continues

NAIROBI, May 25 – Divergent views on whether blanket amnesty should be given to perpetrators of the post election violence continue to emerge Sunday even after the cabinet discussed the issue a few days ago.

Juja MP George Thuo who’s opposed to pardoning of offenders told reporters that he supported the idea to have criminals categorised such that petty offenders are released while those who have committed felony are prosecuted accordingly.

“It is very important that we don’t send the wrong signals to the public. If you set free murderers, arsonists and rapists, then you are saying that you have a licence to do so, as long as it’s immediately after elections. This can be very dangerous,” the government’s Chief Whip warned.

The release of petty offenders he said would be an ideal move to decongest prisons.

“However, to allow people who engaged in criminal activities to go scot-free will be to set aside the rule of law,” he maintained adding that many more general elections would be conducted in the future and therefore the law must be upheld at all times.

“It’s not like we are done with elections and protests. But demonstrations must be peaceful, legal and you can’t use them to break the law,” he emphasized.

While arguing that demonstrators have a right to do so in the confines of the law, he insisted that the country is governed by the rule of law and it should therefore not give a bad precedent to the pubic by failing to punish wrongdoers.

Reacting to the argument that giving amnesty was for the greater good, Thuo retorted: “To release murderers and rapists? I don’t understand that kind of logic.”

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His Kiambaa counterpart Stanley Githunguri however supported the call for clemency as the only way to bring peace and reconciliation in the country.

“If by giving people amnesty will bring peace, then I’m for it,” he maintained.

Githunguri observed that the investigators and the judiciary would toe a thin line trying to decide who to prosecute and whom to leave out arguing that the violence meted out on victims was committed and supported by proponents of both the PNU and ODM parties.

“If ODM and PNU leaders are working together, why punish the ‘small man?” he posed.

The MP said everyone was absorbed in blame for the crisis.

Asked whether pardoning guilty people was not a disregard of the rule of law, Githunguri said that: “Kenyans have always disregarded the rule of law and they (justice system) should go for the ‘big fish’ if they are serious about arresting and prosecuting offenders,” he added referring to people believed to be behind the attacks.

He added: “If the big men are together, then why punish the small man. They should also be forgiven.”

He was of the view that the controversial elections was just used as an excuse to cover up underlying fundamental and serious issues.

Githunguri advised the leaders to spend all their energies on trying to improve the livelihoods and welfare of the victims instead of bickering.

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“Lets forget the past and move forward,” was his advice to Kenyans.

While acknowledging that the amnesty debate would cause some tension in the Cabinet, Thuo hoped that the coalition had matured enough and would stand the test with time.

“I’m hoping that we have matured as a democracy and that politically we are capable of holding differences of opinions but still work together for the greater good of the public,” he added.

Thuo cautioned against interfering with the investigative process saying that exercise should be left to the police and the judiciary.


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