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Pressure piles on Kibaki, Raila to sack ministers

BUSINESS
By | Jul 16th 2009 | 4 min read
By | July 16th 2009
BUSINESS

By Standard Team

Politicians and the civil society piled pressure on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to dissolve the Cabinet if they cannot not provide leadership and commitment to fight impunity.

The principals were challenged to rally the Cabinet to a consensus in setting up a special tribunal to try perpetrators of post-election violence.

Hostile MPs warned the Government to prepare for another round of humiliation should it attempt to bring the Special Tribunal Bill to Parliament for debate.

Angry Kenyans reacted to the Tuesday stalemate in Cabinet over failure to reach a consensus and called for its disso lution.

Assistant ministers, MPs and former ministers joined calls for the dissolution of Cabinet, arguing that vested interests were informing the stalemate.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chairman Okong’o Omogeni and his deputy James Mwamu termed it an embarrassment Cabinet’s failure to agree on how to deal with perpetrators of post election violence.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua, who resigned as Justice Minister three months ago, said Kibaki and Raila lacked the political will and commitment to fight impunity.

"I don’t think there is political will on the part of the two principals, they are giving little or no support now as they did when I tried to move the bills in Parliament," Karua said (see separate story page 6).

Sole alternative

Roads Assistant minister Wilfred Machage said: "The Cabinet should be dissolved. There is nothing they are discussing. The Government will lose miserably in Parliament again. There is one alternative. The Hague."

A lobby group, International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) said if Cabinet cannot work for the good of the country, then it should be reconstituted.

"The National Accord does not in any way hinder or deter the two principals from exercising their constitutional powers of constituting a government that would serve national goals and objectives without bias," said Ndung’u Wainaina, ICPC executive director.

On Tuesday, a special session of Cabinet failed to reach consensus on setting up a Special Tribunal. Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) waits on the sidelines to step in should the push for a local solution fail.

Former minister Joseph Kamotho said the grand coalition Cabinet was too large to reach a consensus.

"Kibaki and Raila must build consensus or crack the whip and ensure ministers speak with one voice and dissenting ones are fired," Kamotho said.

Lawyers PLO Lumumba described the Cabinet as troubled and too deeply divided to act for the common good.

"The country is emerging from a crisis and wrangles in Cabinet are not healthy for the nation."

The ICPC said lack of consensus in the Cabinet compromises Kenya’s standing internationally.

"The Coalition Government has shown an appalling lack of leadership in making the case for a special tribunal for Kenya and the agreed reforms. It is impossible to move the agreed reforms and accountability an inch forward without purging official impunity at the helm. The Cabinet, which is the top policy making body seems to work against the national agenda," said Wainaina.

He added: "Kenya is now ranked 14th, next to Burma, by the US-based Fund for Peace and Failed States Index for 2009. The Cabinet seems not to recognise the enormous embarrassment this is causing as well as posing a serious threat to the social-economic progress."

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said Cabinet is "gambling with the lives of Kenyans for failing to agree on the mode for trying post election suspects".

KNCHR said the Cabinet does not comprehend the magnitude of the crisis Kenyans are facing by failing to make a decisive stand on whether to set up a local tribunal or the ICC.

"The Cabinet must give direction that meets the national and international community’s expectations," said KNCHR vice-chairperson Hassan Omar.

"For the country to turn a new leaf, perpetrators of murder, looting and corruption must be brought to book to end impunity in the country, said Omar.

Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale said fresh efforts by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo to have Parliament pass the Special Tribunal Bill would fail dismally.

Going to Hague

Khalwale said the mood among many MPs was that the suspects must go to The Hague.

Nominated MP Rachael Shebesh said the Cabinet wasted its time dealing with an issue that had been adequately been dealt with by Parliament. Release Political Prisoners Executive Director Stephen Musau said the international community should put pressure on the government to fight all forms of impunity.

Lawyer Harun Ndubi said the President and the Prime Minister signed an agreement to end impunity and that they should not transfer that obligation to the Cabinet.

"Telling the Cabinet to decide the way forward is like telling suspects to decide which form of court they prefer," he said.

The International Commission of Jurists-Kenyan Chapter chairman Wilfred Nderitu said dissolving the Cabinet is not a solution.

"This is shooting the self in the foot but there should be a concerted effort towards a local process to have sustainable justice," Nderitu said.

Reporting by Beauttah Omanga, Susan Anyangu, Mutinda Mwanzia, Fatuma Fugicha and Lucianne Limo

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