, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5 – The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) has vowed to ignore attempts by its former chairman Bethuel Kiplagat to take back the commission’s leadership terming his effort as ‘a side show.’
Chief Executive Officer Patricia Nyaundi told Capital News that the commission would not be deterred from conducting its work, which ought to be concluded in May this year.
She pointed out that Kiplagat did not inform any of the commissioners about his ‘comeback’ adding that she learnt about it through the media.
“I was not in the office so I wouldn’t know; apart from what we have been reading in the press,” she said in an interview.
Nyaundi maintained that there was no leadership crisis at the TJRC.
She expressed confidence that the commission was capable of handling Kiplagat’s re-emergence, but said that the government’s intervention would be a welcome reprieve.
“Even when we had the initial crisis I said it was in the nature of truth commissions to have this kind of drama. But many truth commissions have delivered. It is an assignment we were given to do – we were not told to engage in side shows,” she quipped.
Kiplagat stepped aside from the commission in 2010 following increased credibility concerns raised against him by a cross section of Kenyans over his conduct while serving in the Moi regime.
A tribunal was formed to investigate the claims but he rushed to court to block it, arguing that it could only probe his conduct as the chairman of the TJRC. While the concerns against him remained unresolved, the tribunal was unable to investigate him before its tenure expired.
Nyaundi reiterated the need for the country to focus on reconciliation efforts, as Kenyans prepared themselves for the forthcoming polls.
She maintained that there was need for Kenyans to embark on a political discourse that would ensure that a repeat of the 2007/2008 post-election violence was averted.
“We will be seeking political buy-in on this agenda so that our political leaders take the front in promoting peaceful elections. That is a conversation that we need to start having as Kenyans, notwithstanding our painful past,” she observed.
The TJRC is set to embark on the final pool of public hearings which will be held at the Coast region starting January 9. Nyaundi explained that the commission would kick off the hearings in Lamu County before proceeding to Kwale, Kilifi, Hola, Mombasa and Wundanyi.
“After we finalise the public hearings we will conduct a series of thematic and institutional hearings while promoting national conversations around reconciliation before issuing our final report on May 3,” she said.
Acting Chairperson Tecla Namachanja later sent a statement to newsrooms saying that the parent ministry had not informed the commission of Kiplagat’s reappointment and it was therefore wrong for him to resume duty without notice.
She argued that the jury was still out on Kiplagat’s past conduct as the matter was unsettled.
“The Commission has not received any official communication from the Ministry of Justice on the resumption of Amb Kiplagat as Chair nor held any discussions with him on the matter. He could not walk into the office without these decisions,” she noted.