Annan warns Kenyan leaders on tribunal

February 24, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – The chief mediator during Kenya’s poll crisis former UN boss Kofi Annan warned on Tuesday that further delays in establishing a tribunal to try those accused of post-election violence could have grave consequences for the country’s reform agenda.

In letters to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Mr Annan said that failure by the Kenyan Government and Parliament to create a Special Tribunal would ‘constitute a major setback in the fight against impunity and may threaten the whole reform agenda in Kenya’.

“The Panel of Eminent African Personalities remains of the firm conviction that a Kenyan-owned and Kenyan-led process would be the most beneficial to the Kenyan people,” said Mr Annan in the letter. “We believe that this is a sentiment shared by a great many of your compatriots.”

Mr Annan said the Panel welcomed promised efforts by the leaders to re-engage Parliament to ensure the enactment of the necessary legislation for the establishment of the Special Tribunal.

“It is the Panel’s view that such an effort should be encouraged and carried out within the shortest possible timeframe.”

The former UN Chief made it clear, however, that recourse to the International Criminal Court will be taken if the Special Tribunal is not established within a ‘reasonable period of time’.

He also stressed the need to ensure that legislation for the Special Tribunal meets international legal standards and that it be broadly debated with all sectors of society in order to bring credibility to the process.

Mr Annan reaffirmed the Panel’s commitment to remain engaged and assist Kenya as it works towards the objectives of addressing impunity, fostering reconciliation and long-term electoral and legal reforms. 

On February 12, Parliament rejected a bill to set up the Special Tribunal for Kenya, thereby failing to meet a deadline stipulated by the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence.

Commission chairman Justice Philip Waki had said that should the court not be set up within the laid down time-frame, a secret list of perpetrators of the poll violence that is in Mr Annan’s possession should be handed over to The Hague for action.

But after discussions with Prime Minister Odinga, Mr Annan agreed to give Kenya time to set up the court.

Leaders including Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka have assured that all is not lost, and suggestions have been floated for a special court to be set up in Nairobi, with backing from the United Nations, as has been done in successfully in Tanzania and Sierra Leone.


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