Hour of reckoning for Kenya poll suspects

January 27, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27 – Members of Parliament have unanimously agreed that holders of public office accused of perpetrating the post election violence should step aside once they face charges.

The MPs came to the decision at an informal (Kamukunji) session of Parliament chaired by President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Budalangi Member of Parliament Ababu Namwamba said legislators had agreed that suspects should vacate public office after indictment.

“Consensus is emerging that one has to step aside from public office upon indictment.  This will be undertaken according to international law, which does not allow immunity for anybody,” he said.

The Waki report had recommended that holders of public office should step aside when they face criminal charges and should be barred from ever holding public office for life when convicted.

Tuesday’s meeting focused on building consensus among the MPs to ensure the Bill setting up the Special Tribunal is passed when it goes to Parliament for debate.

Most MPs were positive that the Bill would be discussed either on Wednesday or Thursday, to beat the Friday deadline of setting up the Special Tribunal.

Mr Namwamba said MPs would reconvene on Wednesday to address other contentious issues regarding the Waki recommendations.

The MP also said all lawmakers supported the formation of a concrete mechanism that would deal with impunity by bringing all those involved in the election violence to face the law without exception.

He further stated that the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, the Serena Mediation team that participated in the mediation talks and the drafting team from the State Law office would hold meetings later on Tuesday to discuss the Waki recommendations.

Also on the agenda of Tuesday’s Kamukunji was a constitutional amendment that would solidify the Special Tribunal by entrenching it in the constitution.

“To ensure that we insulate this process from any tinkering we will need to anchor it in the constitution. Part of what we were discussing is a proposed constitutional amendment to incorporate this process in the constitution,” Mr Namwamba said.

Justice Minister Martha Karua is expected to table the Bill in Parliament, marking an important step in bringing those suspected of perpetuating the 2007 election violence that left over 1,500 dead, leaving thousands of others injured and displaced, to justice.

If a local tribunal is not formed by Friday, those named in the Waki secret envelope risk facing charges at the International Criminal Court, in The Hague.


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