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Tribunal: Crucial vote pushed to Tuesday

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – Parliament is on Tuesday next week expected to vote on a Bill that seeks to entrench a Special Tribunal, to try suspected masterminds of the 2008 post-election violence in the Constitution.

Members of Parliament concluded debate on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2009 on Thursday, but could not vote due to lack of time.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua, who closed debate at 6:30pm when the House rises, made a passionate appeal for MPs who were against the Bill to pass it saying that was the only way to ensure justice.

“We have misled the public that there is something wrong with this Bill. I would not table a Bill that is designed to subvert the course of justice. I table a Bill that will help this country move forward,” Ms Karua told the legislators.

Being an Amendment Bill it requires the vote of two thirds of MPs, which is 148.

Debate on the Bill begun on Tuesday and prospects of it being thrown out were clearly visible. The Bill was opposed by some Cabinet Ministers and Backbenchers who advocated for the trial of the perpetrators of the post poll violence in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

On Wednesday Roads Assistant Minister Wilfred Machage and his Higher Education counterpart, Asman Kamama opposed the Amendment Bill. They joined Medical Services Assistant Minister Danson Mungatana.

Among those who supported the Bill were Northern Development Minister Mohammed Elmi, Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka, Peter Baiya (Githunguri, Safina), Rachael Shebesh (Nominated, ODM), Abdul Bahari (Isiolo South, Kanu) and Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis, Kanu).

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Ms Karua asked President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to attend the voting session in a bid to marshal support for the passage of the Bill.

“It is only right that the President and the Prime Minister be in the House to show their support for this legislation.”

If passed MPs will start discussing the Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill, which outlines the mandates of the tribunal.

The setting up of the tribunal or a date for violence suspects with the ICC was one of the far-reaching recommendations of the Waki Commission that investigated the post poll violence.

And among those that could find themselves before either tribunal are some Cabinet ministers named as financers of the violence.

The tribunal if formed is to take over all cases that are related to the 2007 post-election violence. The special tribunal will be composed of Kenyan and international judges and shall apply Kenyan and the International Crimes law.

The date when the tribunal comes into force will be determined by the President, in consultation with the PM, but in any case within 30 days after the President assents to the Bill.

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