Majority of Kenyans back Waki report

November 19, 2008 12:00 am


NAIROBI, November 19 – Majority of Kenyans support the full implementation of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry Into Post Election Violence, commonly referred to as the Waki report, according to a new opinion poll released on Wednesday.

The poll by Strategic Research showed that 58 per cent of those interviewed wanted the report – which the Cabinet is yet to act on – implemented in its entirety.

"Majority of those who support full implementation of the report were convinced that by doing so, it will help in reducing the culture of impunity in the country," the firm’s Chief Executive Officer Caesar Handa said.

Another 38.6 per cent are of the opinion that it would facilitate due process of the law to be undertaken while 12.5 per cent are of the opinion that the report reflects the truth and by following up on the recommendations, the whole truth shall be known."

The findings come as the country’s political class struggles to come up with a definite position on its implementation. The leading political parties have differed on how to handle the damning report.

According to the survey, 11.3 per cent of the respondents were of the opinion that the report had failed in giving the real cause of the violence, while a further 8.9 per cent trashed the Waki commission and termed it a ‘waste of time and public funds.’

Mr Handa said they had interviewed 3,011 people in all the eight provinces across the country.

"We used a multi-stage sampling design to capture the heterogeneous nature of the Kenyan society," he said while releasing the report at a Nairobi hotel.

Ninety per cent of the general public said they had seen or heard of the Waki report, but only 13.8 per cent of those interviewed had actually accessed and read the report, he added.

Suspects named in the report

The pollster said they had established that 55.8 per cent of Kenyans fully support the idea that those adversely mentioned in the Waki report be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted.

"17.6 per cent do not support the idea and 26.7 per cent said the recommendations should be implemented, but with caution," the report states.

Those opposed to the prosecution of those implicated in the Waki report mainly feared that those mentioned had not been proven guilty.

"Thirty three per cent feel such prosecution will ignite fresh clashes, while 22.6 per cent feel that the violence was brought about by circumstances where people were fighting for their rights," the report said.

Fifty two per cent of Kenyans who supported the implementation of the report with caution felt that it was the only way to maintain the fragile peace in the country.

Mr Handa said a further 37.5 per cent feared that the prosecution would not be fair while 9.1 per cent were of the opinion that past commissions’ findings had been unreliable and there would be no basis of using the Waki report for prosecution.

Many of those opposed to the implementation of the report were adamant that perpetrators of the post election violence should be prosecuted regardless of ethnic affiliations.

Twenty six per cent said that the implementation should be done with caution whether those mentioned were from their community or not.

"Ethnicity does not seem to influence opinion in this particular aspect," Mr Handa said.

The report states that about 40 per cent of Kenyans supported amnesty for those who had been implicated in the report but only on condition that they confessed their crimes.

"Twenty six per cent of those interviewed said those with minor crimes should be granted amnesty while another 28.1 per cent said there should be unconditional amnesty for those implicated in the report.  4.6 per cent are totally opposed to amnesty under whatever condition," he said.

Local tribunal

Slightly more than half of Kenyans interviewed supported the formation of a local tribunal to investigate and prosecute those implicated in the Waki report while 47 per cent were opposed to the formation of such a tribunal.

"Those who support the formation of a local tribunal said it will shed more light to the events surrounding the violence," the report states.

Twenty four per cent said "this is a Kenyan matter that should be dealt with internally while 15.3 per cent said such a tribunal would give those implicated a chance for a fair trial."

"A local tribunal will give a sense of justice to the victims of the violence," another group representing 20 per cent of those interviewed said.

"Twenty four per cent of Kenyans opposed to the formation of a local tribunal fear that it would be manipulated by local politicians while 40.9 per cent feel it will only end up wasting resources and achieving nothing," the report states.

The Hague

The Hague option was supported by a majority of Kenyans, who polled at 68 per cent if the government failed to act within time and decisively but 30 per cent others do not see it as an appropriate option.
Meanwhile, Gender and Children Affairs Minister Esther Murugi has joined calls for the implementation of the report in totality.

Speaking during a Women’s Entrepreneurship meeting, she said if the Waki report was not implemented she would mobilise women who were victims of the post election violence to move to court.

"We as women are going to sue those who raped us, those who killed our children and our husbands. We are saying enough is enough. We must implement the Waki report to the brim," she said.

The Minister said women suffered most in the violence and failure to act on the report translated to violating their rights.

Mrs Murugi further said failure to implement the findings would outdo the gains made in promoting gender equality.
She said that a lot had been done to fight gender violence and they would not allow those who financed or raped women during the violence to go unpunished.

She also criticised politicians who had rebuked the Waki findings saying it was heartless for them to wish away such a report.

"We are taking action to ensure no woman is battered or raped and that is why when I hear people saying that the Waki report is rubbish, I feel very hurt because women and children were the most affected," she said.

In efforts to empower women displaced during the post poll crisis, the Minister announced that the government had identified a grant that would help them to start small businesses.

She said the government was still making final arrangements to ensure the money was released by early next year to women’s groups in the camps.

"Most of them have now formed groups and we should be able to start assisting them.  From January we should begin assisting those in the camps or have settled and require help," she said.

Volunteer Business Development Officer Penina Olum said none of the displaced persons had accessed loans because they lacked credit worthiness.

She appealed to the government to waive costs of products made by them as well as source for a market for them.

She also urged big supermarkets to set aside shelves to sell their products.

The Women Entrepreneurship Week which began on Monday has been used to encourage women to borrow money and start their own businesses.

However challenges such as lack of proper information especially for the rural women remained an area of concern.
To counter the challenge, the Gender Minister said her Ministry was providing information on how to access government funds in local languages.


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