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Ruto, Uhuru led onslaught in Parliament against local tribunal

BUSIA
By | April 7th 2011

By MARTIN MUTUA

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP Minister William Ruto had opposed the formation of a local tribunal to try poll chaos suspects.

They were in the forefront in marshalling allies in Cabinet and Parliament to reject a local justice mechanism.

The two had on two occasions ganged up in the House and marshalled allies to reject efforts to set up a tribunal with choruses of "don’t be vague let’s go to The Hague."

The Waki Commission had recommended the establishment of a special tribunal to try suspected masterminds of the chaos.

Proponents of the Local Tribunal Bill were President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, his predecessor Martha Karua and Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara.

Even House Speaker Kenneth Marende made frantic efforts to convince MPs that the way to go was a local tribunal but in vain.

In February 2009, MPs rejected the Bill to establish the tribunal despite intense lobbying by Kibaki and Raila.

Karua, who was then the Justice minister, had introduced the Bill.

At the time, Chief mediator Kofi Annan had granted the country a two-month extension that had lapsed to set up the tribunal as he held on to the "Waki envelope" which named suspected perpetrators of the post-election violence.

The second attempt to establish a local tribunal was again rejected in June 2009 after MPs threw out the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill that sought to anchor it in law.

This time round, Mutula had introduced the Bill.

The envelope

At the time, Annan had been holding on to the famous envelope, with the hope that Parliament would agree to the formation of local tribunal that meets international standards.

But after the second attempt was thrown out and with the deadline gone, Kibaki and Raila convinced Annan to give the Government more time to establish the tribunal.

Annan, who brokered a power-sharing deal, then gave Kenya until August last year to set up the tribunal failure to which he would make public the Waki envelope and hand it over to The Hague.

Uhuru, Ruto and their allies rejected any move to introduce the Bill for a local tribunal, arguing they had no faith in Kenya’s justice system.

Ruto, who was then the Agriculture Minister, defied Kibaki and Raila Odinga on the matter.

He was reported saying beneficiaries of the violence were in office with big vehicles yet the Government wanted to jail ‘small men’ who had fought for them.

And after the country failed to set the local tribunal, Annan had no option but to forward the Waki envelope to the International Criminal Court in July 2009.

The Government, through a delegation consisting of Mutula, Attorney General Amos Wako, Lands Minister James Orengo, among others, signed an agreement with Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in July last year.

The agreement was another effort to establish a local tribunal.

However, these efforts collapsed as the Government failed and Moreno-Ocampo initiated investigations and got approval from the Pre Trial chamber II judges.

And on December 15, Ocampo made good his threat and named the six as bearing the greatest responsibility in the violence.

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