Clinton pleads with Kenya MPs on Tribunal

August 5, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5 – The American government has urged Kenyan Members of Parliament to support formation of a local Special Tribunal to try suspected post election violence perpetrators.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said on Wednesday that a local process was the best mechanism as an international process would take too long to conclude.

“I understand how complicated this is considering the possible recurrence of violence from supporters of the suspects. It does take a lot of political will and leadership for this,” she said at a press conference minutes after meeting with President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who briefed her on Kenya’s progress on the reform agenda.

Mrs Clinton said that the leaders explained to her the difficulty the government faces in pushing through Parliament a constitutional amendment to create the tribunal.

“As hard as it is to resolve this internally I think it is better for Kenyans,” she said and challenged the legislators to exhibit leadership on the issue.

The Secretary of State welcomed the growing close working relationship between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, saying it was a good recipe for the progress of the reform agenda in the country.

“That doesn’t mean that they don’t have issues they have to work on but you will not get anything done if people don’t cooperate. You cannot get things done if people don’t have a certain level of trust,” she said while giving her own example with her former rival, and current boss, President Barrack Obama.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula who was with Mrs Clinton at the press briefing said the perpetrators could not escape trials at The Hague based ICC but added that the same could be done through the normal courts system. Mrs Clinton threw his support for prosecution through the existing judicial system.

“What we must do is to create strong institutions that would make it difficult for the events of last year to happen again in this country,” Mr Wetangula said.

Parliament in February rejected the establishment of a local tribunal claiming that it could be manipulated by the Executive. A second attempt by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo to set a water tight tribunal hit a snag last week after Cabinet rejected it and opted for a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) route.

The international community has maintained that a local tribunal is best placed to address the violence suspects and said that trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) should be the fall back position and not the TJRC process.

Already a list of handful suspects is with the ICC prosecutor who is currently evaluating whether the Kenya case begs his action.

Mrs Clinton is in the country for a three day visit to the country to address the ongoing African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) taking place in Nairobi. She is expected to address students of The University of Nairobi on Thursday before leaving for South Africa to continue with her seven nations’ tour of Africa.


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