Two in Cabinet oppose Bill on Special Tribunal

Published on 04/02/2009

The prospects of establishing a Special Tribunal to try post-election violence suspected instigators continued to dim with two assistant ministers joining the ranks of MPs opposing it.

This played out as an MP lined an amendment to the Special Tribunal Bill seeking to grant immunity to high ranking Government officers, who may be implicated.

Kiema Kilonzo (Mutito, ODM-Kenya) wants Clause 14(4) that advocates for individual responsibility of crimes committed deleted.

This means senior officers whose juniors are implicated would be let off the hook.

The amendment would come before the House for adoption or rejection.

Yesterday, Roads Assistant Minister Wilfred Machage and his Higher Education counterpart, Asman Kamama opposed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill that seeks to entrench the Tribunal into the Constitution.

Leaving office

They join Medical Services Assistant Minister Danson Mungatana, who on Tuesday opposed the Bill fearing that people implicated would not be subjected to leaving office while under investigation.

Yesterday, the ministers argued the tribunal might be subject to manipulation and tribalism thereby exposing the country to further anarchy.

Cover up

Opposing the Bill, Simiyu Eseli (Kimilili, Ford-K) feared the Executive could cut deals to oppose any amendments to the Tribunal Bill should the Amendment Bill be passed, adding the tribunal would be used as a cover up by those implicated.

He said witnesses would also disappear given the past precedent as happened by the Ouko inquiry.

“Why don’t we call the UN to set up a tribunal here… it is because we want a chance to manipulate the process. I will oppose the Bill,” said Eseli.

Lewis Nguyai (Kikuyu, PNU) opposed the Bill arguing the Tribunal Bill does not have a watertight clause that would protect witnesses.

But Environment Minister John Michuki, in supporting the Bill, said the country would be putting its sovereignty at stake by handing the Waki envelope to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Musikari Kombo (Nominated, PNU) supported the Bill and said a special magistrate court should be established locally to try suspects of ‘small crimes’ while the bigger crimes should be forwarded to ICC.

Others who supported the Bill were Northern Development Minister Mohammed Elmi, Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka, Peter Baiya (Githunguri, Safina), Rachael Shebesh (Nominated, ODM), Abdul Bahari (Isiolo South, Kanu) and Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis, Kanu). Debate continues.

Stories by Alex Ndegwa, Peter Opiyo and Beuttah Omanga.

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