Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mwananchi to Poll Violence Planners: To The Hague! No Mercy!

From Bunge La Mwananchi

The special tribunal as recommended by Waki commission was to serve the crucial function of being a land mark on the journey to ending Kenya’s cycle of impunity, addressing the cycles of human rights violation and purging the abuse of power and misuse of public office in Kenya.

The Thursday, 29th January 2009, failure by parliament to pass the necessary law to set up the Justify Fullspecial tribunal within the Waki prescribed timeline is for Kenyans a blessing in disguise. By that act, we are now enroute to The Hague, which is a welcome relief for millions of ordinary Kenyans who have suffered impunity in all its forms in this country.

A country where:

-the Electoral Commission of Kenya officials instead of being tried for mismanaging the general election are fleecing public coffers for over Ksh. 500 million in severance pay.

-where political leaders engage in imperious activities such as corruption and continue to enjoy public office privilege.

-a legislator censored by the Parliament and heavily implicated for public office impropriety by a Commission of Inquiry set up by the Government, can be reinstated by the top Executive to enjoy Cabinet privileges.

All these happenings confirm that our top leadership is either clueless, not alive to what is happening or they are apologists for the impunities. For the many Kenyans who have suffered evils at the torture chambers, police brutality, extra judicial killings, human rights abuse and other grand corruption related pains in the form of misdirected public funds and resources, the Special Tribunal is a reassuring step towards breaking from such a bleak past.

Ordinary Kenyans do not have confidence in the local judicial system where justice is sold to the highest bidder and even one of our top leaders is on record proclaiming lack of confidence in the judicial system and its courts.

In a country with a history of horse trading for political expediency, majority of Kenyans are cautious to avoid letting off post election violence criminals through political-horse-trading. Therefore, with the Waki Commission report deadline having been exceeded, any further time granted to set up the tribunal would be at the mercy of the Panel of Eminent Persons. Kenyans exhort the Panel of Eminent Persons chaired by Dr. Koffi Annan not to extend such mercy or fear to punish this Government since they had plenty of time and could even afford to break early for Christmas.

We, Kenyans, support The Hague option because having an independent unbiased third party such as the ICC in charge will ensure that the process for justice is free from political interference. Further, this will save the nation from soap-opera-like intrigues and the twists and turns that is customary with Kenyan public business as political elite battle to stay in power. Even as the parliament rushed in an attempt to pass the law to set up the Special Tribunal, there are crucial questions that either alarmed or concerned Kenyans:

Considering everything in perspective, who is genuinely interested in the Special Tribunal? The answer is the ordinary Kenyans - the ones who have suffered too long from impunity, abuse of power, misuse of office and aborted justice or the slow motion of the wheels of justice.
Second, if the latest political events are anything to go by, where the two principals have become staunch advocates of and for each other and characters held in public contempt are elevated in public to senior cabinet positions, do you think the two former protagonists and their allies are interested in the tribunal?
How do we deal with already noticeable gaping loopholes that threaten the independence and effectiveness of the proposed Special Tribunal? For example, who will fund the tribunal? Is it the Government or the Consolidate Fund? How do we expect any implicated parliamentarian to sign the pay package for his executioners? Who will the Special Tribunal Chairman and the committee report to? If the previous escapades of commissions of inquiry are an example, Kenyans are likely to see the findings of this special tribunal in 2030 or so.
The other questions that we must ask ourselves, is who is the complainant? Ordinary Kenyans, without a doubt. Who is the defendant? Again, unquestionably, our political leaders. Considering that our lawmakers are themselves often eating the crumbs that fall off the Masters╩╝ table, are the politicians likely to pass stringent laws to punish themselves or their benefactors? Shouldn’t we expect that our legislators are going pass laws even at night in order to free their partners in crime?

Further, the elephant question is will President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga face the Special Tribunal? Suppose they do and they are implicated such that they cannot exonerate themselves, what will happen? Will they still hold their public office? In proper hindsight, there is an undeniable role that the now President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga played in the post election violence, at least by their differences being the trigger that sparked it all off. For justice to be done and be seen to have been done it is important that the two principals must also face the Special Tribunal. In the event that they are implicated beyond reasonable doubt, can the President and Prime Minister be suspended? Further still, since the Cabinet is filled up with characters whose hands have been in the cookie jar, who will step in?
What are the possibilities that the two principals and their cohorts will use the national security intelligence to help water down evidence adduced against them?

We, Kenyans, are cognizant that the Waki commission has reinvigorated an apathetic citizenry by availing them the tangible opportunity to deal with the powerful persons behind the high loss of lives and widespread destruction of millions worth of property and sources of livelihood that devastated our lives in early 2008. We desire to start new chapter of Kenyan stability, a chapter to begin believing again in the vision and ideals of our nation and for this justice is crucial. It is only at The Hague where we will believe that justice shall be done and be seen to be done.
Further, we Kenyans, are alive to the truth that the coalition between the former protagonists can only be the product of their having hatched up some form of settlement over their differences, thereby forging a very strong, self-preserving and protective bond, and are concerned that the mad dash to adopt the law in parliament to set up the Special Tribunal is nothing more than a public relation exercise to sanitize post election violence planners before the public eye.

Lastly, in these difficult times, we the grass root leaders, call upon our Brothers and Sisters-Kenyans in the diaspora to join us in vigilance and militancy in demanding justice, as we do not expect any benevolence from our political class. The Special Tribunal is about ending impunity in all its forms and we must therefore drown out the assertion of sovereignty conveniently adopted by the cornered political class and invite the international community especially the AU and the UN to help us get justice. Yes, we Kenyans - we who truly want justice for those who burnt in the Eldoret Church and those were killed in Naivasha - we plead with the international community to help us in our vigilance to ensure justice.

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