Dissolve Cabinet, it is irrelevant

July 15, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya – The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) is calling for immediate dissolution of the current Cabinet.

On Tuesday the Cabinet failed to agree on a proposal by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo for setting up of a local tribunal to deal with post election violence master minders.

The Coalition Government has shown an appalling lack of leadership in making the case for a Special Tribunal for Kenya and the agreed reforms.

It is impossible to move the agreed reforms and accountability an inch without purging the official impunity at the helm, particularly a cabinet which is the top policy making body but it seems to work against the national agenda. It is a difficult political decision but it is the only avenue of moving the reforms agenda forward.

The top political leadership in Kenya has to realise that unless there is substantive movement in the political ground and dismantling of the pillars of impunity in their midst, which are holding Kenya hostage, and moving the political ground it is impossible to attain the desired accountability and agreed reforms.

It has been recently established that Kenya is now ranking 14th next to Burma according to the US-based Fund for Peace Failed States Index for 2009. The Cabinet seems not to recognise that this is causing enormous embarassment as well as posing a serious threat to the social-economic progress  for Kenya.

This time leaders must get the legislation right and marshall the necessary support in Parliament, and they must do it soon.It may not be in his  character (to change ministers) but  President Kibaki in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga  might do it anyway out of necessity.

 The National Accord does not in anyway hinder or deter the two Principals from exercising their constitutional powers of constituting a government that would serve national goals and objectives with objectivity and purpose.

The Kenyan government must escalate  a renewed and united effort to enact the Special Tribunal to try those responsible for last year’s election violence as soon as possible.  ICPC insists. It is now incumbent on the government to fully consult with the public and experts to revise the bill so that it meets international standards and so no unscrupulous MP can claim there are loopholes in it.

The debate being peddled by Parliamentarains is  conducted as though the choice before Kenya was whether to investigate and prosecute the suspects identified by the Waki Commission in Kenya or at the Hague. MPs say they lack confidence in a national process, but Kenya has a responsibility under international law to bring criminals to justice regardless of whether or not parliament obstructs the Special Tribunal.

Establishment of a Special Tribunal with international participation would be a first important step in improving the capacity of the Kenyan judicial system, and local trial of those most responsible for post-election violence will make such proceedings fully accessible to Kenyans and directly challenge the prevailing culture of impunity.  Mr. Wainaina says. He further added that  the International Criminal Court retains jurisdiction at all times and if at any point the Kenyan government proves unwilling or unable to administer justice, the ICC reserves the right to step in; so the guarantee of justice is still there.

As Kofi Annan said, the Special Tribunal with international participation and the supervision of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities presents the best hope for justice for the largest number of Kenyans. 

The Kenyan government must  hold  sustained consultations with the public and with legal experts to incoporate in particular, to ensure that the tribunal judges are completely independent, all immunities are abolished and that the tribunal enjoys concurrent jurisdiction as well as constitutional backing free from the reach of the Attorney General. Also, Kenyan authorities must consider all transitional justice mechanisms, and ensure that the relationship between the special tribunal and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission is regulated, to promote a smooth coordination of their activities.


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