Bring it on now, MPs tell Annan

Published on 02/04/2009

By Standard Team

Only a day after Dr Kofi Annan extended the deadline for the establishment of a local tribunal to try post-poll offenders, MPs appeared hell-bent on scuttling the process, even as others seemed intent to derail this morning’s selection of a new electoral commission chief.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka led the brigade scoffing at Annan, saying Kenya was not a failed State and, therefore, was capable of resolving issues without resorting to foreign solutions.

Annan had given Parliament up to the end of August to set up a special tribunal, failing which the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague would take over. But the wave of resistance was overwhelming. Energy Assistant Minister Charles Keter said Parliament had already made a decision to have perpetrators of the violence taken to The Hague and that decision still stood.

Mr Keter, a close ally of Agriculture Minister William Ruto, said Annan should have given the names in the secret Waki envelope to the ICC when Parliament made its decision.

“Already, ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo has said he will move with speed, while Annan is talking about August. What is wrong?” he asked.

But Law Society of Kenya Chairman Okong’o Omogeni welcomed the extension of time and urged the political class to seize the opportunity and set up a special tribunal. He said politicians should treat the extension as a final opportunity.

“We welcome the overture extended to us and hope the political class will take advantage for the sake of Kenyans,” Mr Omogeni said on the telephone.

Similarly, the International Commission of Jurists chairman, Mr Wilfred Nderitu, welcomed the extension “because we have always advocated a local process”.

No to tribunal

But Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua recalled that Parliament had unanimously rejected the Bill proposing the formation of the tribunal.

“Who is Annan to issue extensions and deadlines? We know he was instrumental in mediating peace for Kenya, and we thank him for that. But he should not coerce the country into what is unpopular,” he said.

Mr Mbugua, a close ally of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, warned: “It (the Bill) will face the same defeat. Kenyans want the perpetrators to go to The Hague.”

Gender Minister Esther Murugi said the extension was pointless and it was time the names of high profile suspects were made public.

“Annan should stop dangling the envelope as if it were a carrot. Let him open the envelope so that we can know who these people are and deal with them,” Ms Murugi told The Standard on the telephone.

Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro was emphatic that they would not entertain fresh attempts to establish a local tribunal.

“The people of Kenya spoke clearly through their representatives in Parliament that they are not interested in a local tribunal,” he said.

PNU Chief Whip George Thuo declined to comment, saying he was not aware that Annan had extended the deadline.

ODM Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said the extension was welcome as “it gives coalition partners time to agree and go back to the drawing board so that we can have a local tribunal”.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said Annan was “wasting his time and ours by withholding the envelope. He should have handed it over a long time ago”.

Mr Kutuny said Parliament would reject the Bill to establish the special tribunal as their decision “was final”.

Elsewhere, the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms appeared headed for trouble when it meets this morning to pick a new chair for the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), given the political intrigues and lobbying that have defined the process despite the urgency of the matter.

Pending petitions

Although pending election petitions have been suspended until IIEC — another creation of the Annan process — is in place, political interests might frustrate its conclusion today.

Yesterday, Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Mutula Kilonzo asked Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta to come clean over media reports that they had approached some PSC members and urged them to support candidates of their choice.

“Can the two leaders deny that they have been reaching out to the PSC members and rooting for some candidates?” Mutula asked.

Mutula, a PSC member, said the reported interference by Uhuru and Raila could mar today’s exercise.

Another PSC member, Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo, was non-committal on whether ODM members had been approached to vote as a block.

“As a party, there is nothing wrong in meeting and discussing the candidates. At the end of the day, MPs will vote as individuals and Mutula is also free to vote for whoever he prefers,” said Ms Odhiambo.

A spokesman at the PM’s office said he was not aware of alleged Raila’s meddling, while Uhuru’s phone went unanswered.

City lawyer Pheroze Nowrojee withdrew his candidature for undisclosed reasons, but some PSC members claimed he was unhappy with political interference. His withdrawal came weeks after another lawyer, Mr Cecil Miller, opted out of the race.

Yesterday, PSC Vice-Chairman Ababu Namwamba dispelled rumours that many members had agreed on an IIEC chairman.

Kenya’s choice

“We have agreed to forget our political inclinations and give Kenyans a man they can all accept,” said PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohamed.

Those short-listed include Mr Ahmed Issack Hassan, Mr J O Oswago, Mr Duncan Mwanyumba, Ms Jane Nyaboke Njagi and Mr Wainaina Kagwe.

They join former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Chairman Maina Kiai, former House Speaker Francis ole Kaparo, Ms Koki Muli, Ms Alice Yano, Mr Wachira Maina and Mr Abdi Mohammed.

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