NAIROBI, June 1 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga appeared to be walking on a collision path Sunday when the Head of State ruled out any possibility of pardoning suspected perpetrators of the post election violence.
While Odinga and some Ministers allied to ODM have been insisting on a blanket amnesty for suspects held for various offences committed during the post poll crisis, the Head of State ruled out amnesty and said all the suspects would face the full force of the law.
President Kibaki and Odinga appeared to read from different scripts when they addressed the nation during this year’s Madaraka Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Odinga said: “Because we want to forget what happened during the post election violence, the government is looking into the issue of the youth who were arrested. I am sure it will be sorted.”
On the other hand, President Kibaki was emphatic on the rule of law being enforced.
It was the first time the President spoke publicly about the issue that has caused widespread condemnation of the police, who are being accused of holding ‘innocent’ youths.
The President carefully chose his words and was crystal clear on the need to strictly adhere to the constitution.
“We should not spare them or those who recruit youth to cause mayhem. Investigations are on-going. Once investigations are completed, those found innocent will be released without further delay but those who committed the murder of innocent Kenyans, engaged in reckless destruction of property should not expect any mercy,” he said.
And he added: “Any normal person should not think that the government should pardon suspects who cause mayhem in the country. The law is clear on that.”
Odinga and other ODM Ministers have been calling for a blanket amnesty for all those arrested after the December elections, saying they were ‘fighting for a worthy cause’.
The thorny issue has caused ripples in the security circles and among senior government officers charged with the responsibility of maintaining the law.
Ministers Martha Karua (Justice and National Cohesion) and Professor George Saitoti (Internal Security) have on separate occasions maintained that the law would be followed to the letter as far as crime in the country is concerned.
“We will not bend the law because of a particular incident or incidents. The law is very clear on that matter. Anyone found guilty will be prosecuted accordingly,” the Justice Minister said at a recent public gathering in her Gichugu constituency.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Professor Saitoti on Thursday when he met senior Administration Police officers at the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE).
“The police will do their work accordingly because they are guided by the rule of law. And we will support them fully on that matter, there is no such a thing like amnesty,” the interior Minister said.
Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali did not mince his words either when he addressed a press conference on Friday.
“As far as I am concerned, those arrested are not mere youths as often referred by politicians and the media. These are suspects of various offences in the country and they will face the law accordingly,” he said.
Nearly 10,000 suspects are in police custody for various offences ranging from murder, arson, rape and destruction of property among other crimes.
Many of the suspects were rounded up and arrested in Rift Valley, Nairobi and other provinces that were adversely affected by the post election skirmishes, where about 1,500 people were killed.
Statistics available at Police headquarters show that up to 12,000 cases were reported at police stations countrywide during the election period.
Of these cases, 4,690 were petty offenders who have already been charged in court.
7,600 cases, many of them capital offences, are being investigated and are a subject of the raging controversy on a blanket amnesty.
The Police chief announced Friday that a further 550 suspects are being sought to face a series of charges.