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PM: Waki deadline not definite

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said that post election violence suspects may not be tried at the International Criminal Court in the Hague despite an expiry of the grace period for the formation of a local tribunal.

He said the formation of a local tribunal was in progress after related legislations were published and presented to Parliament.

Mr Odinga assured that there was no cause for alarm since the government was committed to implement recommendations in the Waki report.

"I have discussed the matter with Koffi Annan on the progress we have made towards this initiative and I expect the former UN secretary general to get more highlights from President Mwai Kibaki," the Premier said.

He however said the process was slightly behind schedule after the expiry of last Friday’s deadline set by Justice Philip Waki.

"The delay can be attributed to technical hitches," Mr Odinga said.

He maintained that the government was committed to form the tribunal and expressed optimism that parliament would soon ensure the legislative mechanisms were in place for the commencement of the trials.

The Premier made the assurance at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on arrival from the World Economic Forum conference in Switzerland.

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There have been fears that the trials were likely to be pushed to the Hague after the expiry of the deadline.

In his recommendation, Justice Waki gave the government up to the end of January this year to finalize modalities of formulating a local tribunal, failure to which his commission had threatened to forward the cases to the International Criminal Court.

The premier who met several world leaders at the conference said many developed countries had expressed interest to bail out Kenya from the current food crisis after presenting the grave reality of the humanitarian catastrophe in the country.

He said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with whom he had lengthy discussions over the situation later pledged to immediately ship humanitarian assistance to the famine victims.

Mr Odinga said current global economic slump had further aggravated the situation but added that it was time the nation devised ways of cushioning the crisis through embarking on locally created wealth towards independence and self reliance.

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