, ELDORET, Kenya, May 14 – One and half years after the Kiambaa church arson attack, 36 victims were finally laid to rest on Thursday albeit without getting any justice.
President Mwai Kibaki led the memorial service held at the church grounds where regrets for the political violence took centre stage. In his usual optimistic style, President Kibaki said the country was well on course to return to the united nation it was prior to the 2007 election violence.
“We do not want anyone to be left behind. I want all of us to forgive our neighbours. I was so delighted when one of the victims confessed here that they have forgiven those who attacked them,” he said.
The bodies of 24 unidentified victims were buried in a mass grave within the church compound, while 14 identified remains were laid to rest in individual graves. Five children who suffered severe burns while sheltering in that church are in the United States receiving specialised treatment.
Hopes of justice for the victims were dashed last month after the High Court in Nakuru set free four suspects charged with the arson for lack of evidence.
Parliament earlier in the year rejected a proposal to establish a local tribunal to charge suspected perpetrators of the violence on fears that political kingpins could manipulate the process. Former Cabinet Ministers Njenga Karume and Ezekiel Barngetuny said those behind the violence should be made to account for the loss of lives.
“Whoever it is, despite their status, should face the law,” Mr Barngetuny said.
President Kibaki said that the country should overcome the challenges of elections and move on to rebuild the image of the country.
“All those who spoke here have made it clear that they don’t want those who are guided by malice. They have reiterated that they do not want to be misled by politicians who are still talking casually,” he said.
Internal Security Minister George Saitoti on his part stated that political stability and the security of the nation would be dependent on goodwill from both the citizenry and leaders. Prof Saitoti sought support for community policing across the country.
“Security agencies will do their work but to have lasting peace all of us must be clear in our mind that we want the peace. All leaders and the citizenry must work together in this,” he urged.
The Minister further implored leaders to shun hatred and divisive politics.
“The citizens have no problem without us. I am not ashamed to say that we must change our course and that we are not leading stones, but people,” he said.