An extra month for Waki team

August 12, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, August 12 – The Commission of Inquiry into the Post election Violence (CIPEV) has another month to finish its work.

President Mwai Kibaki gave it 30 more days, until September 22, to present their findings and recommendations.

The Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Philip Waki was constituted on May 23 and had earlier been given until August 22 to complete its task.

The five-member commission, which was sworn in on June 3, has the legal mandate to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the acts of violence that followed last year’s General Election.

It comprises Court of Appeal Judge Waki, and Commissioners Gavin McFadyen from New Zealand as well as Pascal Kambale from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Waki has in the past requested an extension of tenure arguing that it was not possible for the Commission to complete the task within the time stated in their terms of reference.

The Commission has been conducting public hearings across the country, taking accounts of circumstances that led to the violence that claimed the lives of a reported 1500 people and displacement of some 350,000.

It held public hearings in Kisumu on Tuesday where police defended the use of live bullets to quell riots there during the post election violence.

Area divisional Police Chief Simon Kiragu said ‘that was the only way to deal with the rioters’.

“An order was placed for the dreaded rapid deployment unit to be brought to Kisumu as reinforcement,” he said.

He said the decision to employ the services of the rapid deployment unit and the use of live ammunition was reached on December 31, last year.

Kiragu defended the decision arguing that thousands of rioters overwhelmed the police officers for three days.

“A platoon of 50 officers was brought to link up with officers from the general service unit and administration police officers,” he said.

He told CIPEV that the hotspots in Kisumu included Nyalenda, Kachok, Nyamasaria, Obunga, Mamboleo and Kisan where most of the victims were shot.

“A total of 48 people were killed during the period of the violence,” he added.

His Homa Bay counterpart Jimmy Munene, said his orders not to use live ammunition were ignored by junior officers.

He said his officers defied orders to restrict themselves on the use of tear gas canisters and instead went ahead to shoot at the rioters.

The demonstrators were protesting alleged theft of the Presidential vote by President Mwai Kibaki last December when he was announced the winner.

Kisumu is home to Prime Minister Raila Odinga whom the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) declared second in the polls, sparking off countrywide chaos.

More than 100 supporters of Odinga are reported to have been shot dead by the police at the time but officials have placed the figure at 48.

“Before the officers were dispatched to contain the violence, I warned them not to shoot at the rioters but to use teargas and shoot in the air to scare them,” Munene said.

During cross examination by lawyers standing in for the police, Munene was taken to task to explain why internal disciplinary action had not been taken against officers who flouted the rules.

He told the commission an inquest file had been opened and forwarded to the state counsel for further direction.


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