Govt says all not lost after vote defeat

February 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – After losing the vote on the Constitutional Amendment Bill to entrench a Local Tribunal in the constitution, the Government said that was not the end of fighting impunity in the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the government would soon issue a comprehensive statement on the way forward, though he admitted that the loss was a major setback for them.

“Government has to take stock. This does however not mean it is the end of everything, we have to move forward and we will release a statement soon,” he said.

Justice Minister Martha Karua echoed Mr Odinga’s sentiments saying that the government would not relent from its agenda of bringing justice.

“It is a great loss but it does not mean that is the end. We will go back to the drawing board,” she said.

Ms Karua, however, said action on the eight names in the secret Waki envelope that is still with Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan depended on him.

“In the meantime, the eight names are still high up somewhere, they are with Kofi Annan. He will decide what to do with them,” she said.

The government may decide either to draft a fresh bill and present it in Parliament after six months, as required by the Standing Orders, or wait for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take action.

However, the Waki timelines set out by the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence are a major determining factor.

According to the Justice Waki report recommendations, the local tribunal should have been in place earlier this month.

Nairobi Metropolitan Minister, Mutula Kilonzo, who was also a member of the mediation team expressed shock at the vote, squarely blaming the President and the Prime Minister for failure to provide leadership.

“Both of them should resign, they have failed to lead the coalition. The purpose of this coalition was to bring parties together and lead to the realisation of the Agenda Item number four. This is also a collapse of the mediation talks,” he said.

He said the two should have addressed MPs before the voting began, to demonstrate that they were important in government deliberations.

The Mbooni MP said the Bill was also defeated because of the perception that the ICC was the best option, and said it was not automatic that the perpetrators of the 2007 post election violence would be a priority.

He cited numerous cases from other countries, some of which were failed states, as still pending before the ICC.

He said that failure to form a local tribunal was setting a stage for serious war in the next general elections, since the problems that led to the previous violence had not been resolved.

Mr Kilonzo noted that the local tribunal would have been the most appropriate mechanism of dealing with the problems right from the grassroots.

“The ICC is not automatic, we are aware without punishing the perpetrators 2012 will be a terrible situation, and having 93 MPs opposing the Bill also demonstrates a huge problem already,” said the Minister.


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