, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – American professor Ron Slye on Tuesday rescinded his decision to quit the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) barely hours after embattled Chairman Bethuel Kiplagat stepped down.
Prof Slye, who had accompanied other truth commissioners to a press briefing, refuted claims that he had stepped aside as a commissioner arguing that he had only communicated his "intention to resign."
He explained that since he had not officially communicated his resignation to President Mwai Kibaki, he would continue serving in the TJRC.
"My intention was to resign on November 1… then on Friday the Chief Justice established a tribunal and there was an indication that based upon that, the chairman might step aside. So based upon that I did not send my resignation and I have withdrawn my intention to quit," he said.
On October 21, Prof Slye sent a statement to newsrooms indicating his decision to quit the commission. He cited the chairman\’s integrity woes as well as the financial crisis at the commission as the reasons behind his quitting.
The statement read in part: "I am resigning from the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission. I have lost my faith in the commission\’s ability to fulfil even a small part of its mandate."
The Don, who maintained that his resignation letter was just a draft, also accused the media of misquoting him.
"That was misreporting because the statement was pretty clear that it was just an intention to resign not the actual resignation. I had already drafted the letter but I held it because of changing events," he said.
But up until Tuesday, Prof Slye had not challenged the media reports stating he had quit. (You can read his full statement on our downloads section).
He however added that the budgetary constraints at the commission would still hinder its reconciliatory works.
"Given that the issues on the chairman now have their own place to be dealt with, I hope that both the government and donors will now step in to provide support to the TJRC and allow it to do what it is supposed to do," Prof Slye added.
Other commissioners at the TJRC welcomed the decision by Mr Kiplagat to vacate office, saying that it brought back hope to the besieged commission.
According to the TJRC Act (2009) the vice chairperson will temporarily take over the commission\’s leadership role.
The commission\’s vice chairperson Tecla Namachanja also called on donors and the government to offer their support to the commission.
"The fact that the tribunal has been set up and is going to look into the allegations against Amb Kiplagat, I think this will encourage donors. I will see no reason why they should not help us fulfil our mandate; I hope Kenyans also come in to give us moral support," she said.
On Tuesday the TJRC chairman bowed to public pressure (refer to our lead story) and decided to step aside and pave way for investigations.
This follows last week\’s decision by Chief Justice Evan Gicheru to form a commission to probe his character after the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs gave the TJRC a 72-hour ultimatum to sort out its wrangles.
The TJRC is still running on a monetary deficit.