, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26 – A top Law Society of Kenya (LSK) official now says calls led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Chairman, Bethuel Kiplagat to resign are ill placed.
Evans Monari who was among the members of the panel that selected Ambassador Kiplagat, dismissed the stand taken by Archbishop Tutu and other former members of truth commissions across Africa saying even his nomination as head of the South African truth and reconciliation commission was met with resistance.
Speaking exclusively to Capital News on Friday, Mr Monari asked Kenyans and the African peace commissioners to give Ambassador Kiplagat a chance to prove himself and judge him on the basis of his reconciliation work.
“It is a fact that the Reverend Tutu upon being selected Chairman of the Truth Commission in South Africa met serious resistance from various parties including civil societies in South Africa but he was able to weather the storm. That should tell you that it is not easy to get a chairman of the TJRC process because you cannot be accepted across the board by everybody,” he said.
Mr Monari instead accused those asking for Ambassador Kiplagat’s resignation of politicising the reconciliation process adding that Reverend Tutu did not understand the internal mechanisms of Kenya.
“They are acting at the behest of an International NGO on transitional justice which is only about six months old in Kenya. I am not too sure Reverend Tutu and his fellow commissioners are aware that Bethuel Kiplagat was nominated by the National Council of Churches of Kenya and that he is the one who led the civil society when Kofi Annan came to Kenya,” he said.
He further asked Kenyans to respect local institutions and have patience and faith in them adding that the reconciliation process was long overdue.
“We’ve never had such a commission before and I think we should accord them all the necessary cooperation as Kenyans. We need to put aside these sideshows; appear before the commission and present our views. Hopefully our country will heal. We cannot be going from one crisis to another every week; it is not fair for the children being brought up in this country. They think that the country is in turmoil and that adults cannot behave themselves,” he said.
Mr Monari also rubbished allegations that Ambassador Kiplagat was not the right candidate to lead the TJRC on grounds that he was allegedly implicated in the Ouko report and because he served in the Moi regime.
“He was a (Foreign Affairs) PS and he was the highest civil servant who gave his evidence before the commission in Kisumu. The Ouko saga was never resolved and it cannot be put on the hands of Ambassador Kiplagat so many years after. If the accusations being put against him are totally baseless then he should stand his ground. And it is the duty of the public to recognise that he has a job to do which must start now,” he said.
He maintained that the TJR selection panel had full confidence in selecting Ambassador Kiplagat saying that none of the information that was being peddled in the press by various organisations against him was brought to the attention of the selection panel before his appointment. He added that there was a pending court case to address the dispute generated from the appointment.
‘It is only important that we wait for a bench of three to be appointed by the Chief Justice to hear the matter in court with some sort of finality,” he said.
The LSK Council member however explained that in the event that the TJRC Chairman stepped down on his own volition, the Vice Chairperson Betty Murungi, would temporarily take up his position. He said Ms Murungi would act as TJRC Chair until the President selected another one as mandated by Section 11 of the TJRC Act 2008 and that the reconciliation process would not be paralysed by such a resignation.
“A new Chairman will then be selected from among the commissioners,” he said.
He also explained that the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs would have to choose an extra commissioner to fill the position left by the chairman and whose appointment would be left to the President’s discretion.
Archbishop Tutu and 10 other African peace commissioners have joined other civil society groups besieging the TJRC Chairman to step down because he had allegedly committed improper and illegal acts.
However, on Friday, Ambassador Kiplagat vowed to stay put and await the outcome of the court case challenging his appointment.