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Amnesty debate rages on

NAIROBI, June 21 – The government has once again ruled out general amnesty to perpetrators of the post-election violence which rocked the country over disputed presidential elections early this year.

Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua said the government would not allow the amnesty, noting that those responsible for the deadly unrest must face the full force of the law.

Karua sentiments were backed by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who said Kenyans should learn to respect the law of the land and refuse to allow a culture of impunity to take root in the country.

Karua said the law would be applied without fear or favouritism.
"Those opposed to the move are leaders who are scared they might be implicated in the crimes by the suspects," she said.

Karua was on Friday booed after touching on the sensitive issue during the burial of the late Home Affairs Assistant Minister Lorna Laboso in Sotik.

The crowd seemed to be responding to Water and Irrigation minister Charity Ngilu’s speech where she accused some of her colleagues in the Cabinet of working against the release of the suspects.

The Vice President has however urged leaders to put a stop to the amnesty debate.

Musyoka said the debate threatened to reverse the gains the country had achieved following the post election violence and the formation of the Grand Coalition Government.

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"This talk has the potential to derail the national reconciliation and healing process, and should be stopped," he said.
The Vice President and Justice Minister made their remarks at Kathiani Girls High School in Machakos District during the school’s prize giving day.

The amnesty issue appears to divide the Grand Coalition Government down the middle.

While ODM ministers have demanded the unconditional release of their supporters, their PNU colleagues insist perpetrators of violence should answer for their crimes.

ODM has challenged the police to either take the suspects to court or release them unconditionally, instead of locking them up in custody for months, which is regarded as a violation of their basic human rights.

But leaders from President Kibaki’s side argue that the suspects must face the full wrath of the law regardless of the circumstances that prevailed then.

More than 1,000 people were killed and an additional 350,000 others uprooted from their homes during the two-month mayhem.


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