NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – He sat silently through the special Cabinet meeting, choosing only to smile momentarily as his colleagues trashed a ‘brilliant idea’ which he had hoped would not only administer justice but be a starting point to reclaim lost faith in Kenyan institutions.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo says there was nothing to defend about his Special Tribunal Bill which was rejected by the Cabinet late last month.
“I had consulted the President and laid bare the facts to him. My colleagues in the Cabinet committee were also convinced that we had only two options; either set up the tribunal or refer the matter (post election violence prosecutions) to The Hague,” he emphatically says.
Mr Kilonzo says his conscience is clear and he is happy for his efforts to help Kenya establish a local tribunal to deal with the post election violence. The straight-talking legislator is unapologetic for disagreeing with the Cabinet decision announced by no lesser person than the President himself.
“What was read in the press conference was just a political statement,” he says.
In the last three months at the helm of this docket Mr Kilonzo has made headlines almost daily. One of our readers described him as ‘the only credible Minister giving concrete facts in this government.’ Many times his stand, especially on the special tribunal, has attracted record comments on our website most of which have commended him for a job well done.
His bid to establish a Tribunal that meets international standards has been more than just a job to him, “a passion to see justice delivered” he called it. Given that his bid did not even go through Cabinet, one would think that Mr Kilonzo is frustrated but in his own words, not any bit.
Capital News caught up with this Mr Kilonzo in his office barely two weeks after the dramatic dress down in Cabinet. Ministers rejected his tribunal proposals choosing to use the normal justice system and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to handle the 2007 violence.
“Justice will be delivered no matter how long it takes,” he told us.
Q. There is a feeling in the public domain that there is no political will to form the tribunal. Do you agree with this?
A. Yes. But how do you ask people who suspect they are suspects to pass it? It is unreasonable to expect them to support me.
Q. Did you think they would reject your proposals like they did?
A: I knew I was facing a tall order but I was hoping there would be statesmen who would realise that it is time to show how much they love their country; people who are willing to be investigated and proved wrong or right. That is how to show you are a statesman and not just another politician.
Q. As you sat there throughout the meeting how did you feel?
A. I was just laughing at them. I declined to respond to their remarks because they were not related to my proposals. At no time did anyone give reasons why my Bill was bad, all they told me is to stop stripping the powers of the Presidency, the Attorney General and Chief Justice. But my question is didn’t these people have the same powers when people butchered and raped others?
I have no apology to this country for suggesting that in order to establish the tribunal that can enjoy the support and confidence of all Kenyans we should step back from the powers provided in the Constitution.
Some of them were bashing me calling me a traitor and suggesting that I was deliberately targeting certain individuals. I remember some Ministers from the Party of National Unity taking that approach. Some even went to my party leader – the Vice President – to complain but this was not personal or not politics.
Q. Did you at any point feel frustrated?
A. Do I look frustrated? Not at all; I feel so happy! There are so many other things I am doing. I am happy about all this because at some point the law will catch up with them (perpetrators) and then I will have the last laugh.
Q. There is a new bid to establish the tribunal by backbenchers, are you going to support them?
A. Oh yes. It is good that Mr Imanyara (Imenti Central MP) has seen the writing on the wall on this. I think the original opposition to the Tribunal Bill by the backbenchers was probably not well thought of. I hope he has mobilised the numbers to push for a constitutional amendment.
Q. Those who support the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission say a tribunal will divide Kenyans more. Do you think their argument is merited?
A. When you say move forward are you not supporting those who killed and maimed? How do you move forward when your wife was gang-raped as you watched?
My colleagues may think it is over because they defeated me at the Cabinet but it is not yet over until it is over and this thing is going to go on. Didn’t you see those behind the Nazi being followed and arrested 50 years later? International crimes cannot be reconciled or negotiated.