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EU piles pressure on Kenya over poll violence

NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 7 – The European Union (EU) on Friday rejected the Cabinet’s decision to use the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission to deal with the 2007 post-election violence and instead insisted on the formation of a Special Tribunal to try the perpetrators.

In a statement signed by 20 EU Heads of Missions based in Nairobi, the union’s Acting President Björn Häggmark insisted that even a properly mandated TJRC could not replace a judicial mechanism.

He said when considering whether to provide financial support to the TJRC, the EU and its member states would take such concerns into account.

"We believe a properly mandated TJRC can play a role in national reconciliation, but it cannot replace a judicial mechanism. When considering whether to provide financial support to the TJRC, the EU and its member states will take such concerns into account," he said.

In the strongly-worded statement, the EU said it would peg its future dealings with Kenya on whether the government establishes a Special Tribunal.

"We have in particular emphasised the need to ensure a credible judicial process for victims of the post election violence. This would be of immense benefit to Kenya and contribute to the EU’s future relationship with the Government of Kenya," said Mr Häggmark.

He however said the EU recognised the Cabinet’s commitment to speed up judicial, constitutional, electoral and police reforms saying they will also play a big role to do justice to Kenyans and restore trust in such institutions.

The statement came after a meeting on Thursday between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the EU Heads of Missions.

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The Cabinet last week decided to strengthen the TJRC to deal with the perpetrators of the 2007 violence, a decision that has left many Kenyans disgruntled.  A section of the civil society has asked the government to be clear on how the perpetrators will be punished.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday told Capital news that Kenya had to punish the perpetrators at all costs.

She threw her weight on the formation of a local tribunal saying it was the best option since it will be a process that will be in line with the people’s values and national interests.

"I did want to explore and frankly challenge the people of Kenya and the government as to what is the route that is going to be taken to hold people accountable? I feel very strongly there has to be accountability and appropriate prosecutions and that has not happened," she said.

She further said if Kenya failed to form a local channel that was satisfactory to the people, the International Criminal Court will have to act on the Waki list that is with ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

"I’m hearing from people in Kenya that no one thinks the local route will work! That only leaves the ICC, if people and the government of Kenya cannot come up with a fair, acceptable approach to hold people accountable, then I believe you will see the referral to the ICC!," she noted.

Even though the Cabinet held a meeting on Friday, there was no a word on how the perpetrators would be punished.

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