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MPs kick off Tribunal debate

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – Parliament has finally started debate on a Bill that seeks to anchor a Special Tribunal for perpetrators of the 20078 post election violence in the constitution.

Members of Parliament began discussing the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2009, after Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim ruled that debate could go on despite protests from some legislators who frustrated the Bill last Thursday.

Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara and his Ikolomani counterpart Bonny Khalwale had wanted the Speaker to throw out the Bill arguing that the time given for the setting up of the local tribunal had lapsed last Friday.

“We had 45 days after the agreement between the President and the Prime Minister to pass the necessary laws for the tribunal, this time is up. As we stand now the list of suspects should have gone to the International Criminal Courts in the Hague,” Mr Imanyara told the House.

Last Thursday in a tactful understanding of the House Standing Orders, Mr Imanyara objected to fast-tracking discussion on the Amendment Bill, denying the House a chance to debate it.

Mr Maalim however said Parliament was the supreme organ in the country and was not answerable to anybody.

“We are not under instructions from Dr Kofi Annan or the International Criminal Court,” he ruled.

Contributing to debate, most MPs seemed to oppose the setting up of the tribunal and it was clear that the government would have an uphill task convincing them to pass the Bill.

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Of the seven who contributed to debate only two were for the tribunal. Justice Minister Martha Karua and Cabinet Minister Mutula Kilonzo argued that current judicial institutions had proved they could not handle post election cases hence the need for the Special Tribunal.

“The House adopted the recommendations of the Waki report last Tuesday and we should ensure that we follow them to the letter,” Ms Karua argued.

Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo however said those behind post election violence must be taken to the Hague if justice is to prevail.

He told Parliament that Kenya did not have the capacity to deal with the suspects and should instead hand over the matter to the International Criminal Court.

“Supposing the investigations point to the President or the Prime Minister do you want to convince Kenyans that you have the capacity to try them? I believe the Waki report is correct apart from this section saying we have the tribunal in our country.”

Medical Services Assistant Minister Danson Mungatana said many institutions had been set up previously to investigate various matters and most bore no fruit.

“If the Goldenberg and Ndung’u commissions are anything to go by, we should expect nothing from this tribunal. It’s affairs are likely to be interfered with politically.”

Debate on the Bill resumes on Wednesday. The bill requires a two-third majority of 144 MPs to pass.

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