NAIROBI, November 27 – The Cabinet on Thursday approved the implementation of the controversial Waki report and named a 10-member committee to spearhead the process.,
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were tasked with the responsibility of preparing an implementation work-plan to beat the Waki deadline of March 1, 2009.
A statement from the Presidential Press Service stated that the two coalition leaders would chair the Cabinet sub-committee that includes Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Ministers Martha Karua of the Justice and National Cohesion Ministry, James Orengo of Lands and Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula.
Others are Higher Education Minister Dr Sally Kosgey, Prof Sam Ongeri of Education, Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Mutula Kilonzo.
“The committee will prepare its report and present it to the Cabinet,” the statement read in part but did not give a timeline for the implementation process.
The formation of the Cabinet sub-committee demonstrates a clear signal that the government is in the process of implementing the Waki report after initial discontent from the public after leaders expressed objection to it.
The report that was widely publicised by the local media called for the prosecution of key suspects named in a secret list handed over to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Those on the list include at least six Cabinet ministers, politicians and prominent businessmen who alleged either funded or organised the post-election violence that left at least 1,500 people dead and the displacement of 300,000 others.
At first, the Cabinet appeared divided over the issue with some members openly thrashing the report as ‘a document that cannot stand judicial trial’ both locally and internationally.
Mr Ruto who was selected to sit on the Cabinet sub-committee has been too vocal in opposing the report. He has recently backtracked on this stand and called for the speedy setting up of a local tribunal.
Dozens of other Cabinet Ministers from the Rift Valley Province had joined Mr Ruto’s bandwagon in thrashing the internationally-backed report but appeared to back down last Saturday at a meeting with Prime Minister in the coastal town of Mombasa.
President Kibaki who earlier on expressed interest in implementing the report changed tact recently and rallied for what he termed ‘tempering justice with forgiveness’.
Thursday’s Cabinet resolution that President Kibaki chairs the Cabinet sub-committee on the implementation process sent a clear signal that the government was committed to have the report implemented.
Well placed sources at the Intelligence department told Capital News the Cabinet had settled for a local tribunal which was supported by majority of members present.
“There were no disagreements. Most ministers were unanimous that the government forms a local tribunal because many of them are opposed to sending suspects to The Hague,” the source said.
With the implementation process yet to begin, the government has up to February 28 next year to enact the necessary laws and form a local tribunal.
However, if it fails to start the process, the envelope in Annan’s possession will automatically be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 1, the end of the 135-day timetable contained in the Waki report.
The 60-day deadline began on October 17 when the Waki report was handed over to Mr Annan.
A Statute for the Special Tribunal will then be enacted into law and come into force within 45 days after the signing of the agreement.
Once established, the tribunal will start its work within 30 days after the President assents to the Bill enacting the statute.
If either an agreement for the establishment of the tribunal is not signed, or the statute fails to be enacted, or the tribunal fails to start work, or its functions are subverted after starting, the list of suspects behind the chaos will be forwarded to the ICC.
To avoid bottlenecks, the Bill establishing the tribunal will be insulated against objections on constitutionality and anchored in the Constitution.