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Deadline expires, Ocampo takes over Kenya’s cases

BUSINESS
By | October 1st 2009

By David Ohito

It’s official. Key suspects in post-election violence will face justice at The Hague, Netherlands.

The International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who has in his possession names of ten top persons suspected to have either funded or planned the mayhem, said this.

Ocampo swung into action and proposed a three-pronged approach to resolve Kenya’s unprecedented civilian strife.

The anarchy left more than 1,300 dead and over 350,000 displaced.

Sources also said Kofi Annan, who steered the political negotiations that gave birth to the Coalition Government, is expected in Nairobi next week, to underscore the need to honour the reform agreements under the National Accord. Moreno-Ocampo’s move on Kenya comes at a time the international community is intensifying pressure on Kenya to speed up reforms. Only last week the Obama Administration wrote to 15 top personalities threatening to ban them from travelling to the US for frustrating reforms.

Some of the reforms include a new constitution, setting up of a local tribunal, and legal, institutional and land reforms.

Ocampo’s terse statement promised to make Kenya, "a world example on managing violence, echoing his earlier sentiments that he would make Kenya an example of how to end impunity.

"Kenya will show how to manage past violence and how to create a peaceful process, for the upcoming elections in 2012. Kenya will be an example to the world," Ocampo said yesterday.

The statement was issued on a day pressure was piled on Kenya by the international community and civil society to enact the desired reforms.

Preventing Recurrence

Ocampo’s message reiterated: "In order to prevent a recurrence of violence during the next election cycle, those most responsible for previous post-election violence must be held accountable."

"The ICC will prosecute those most responsible while the national accountability proceedings as defined by Parliament like the special tribunal for other perpetrators," he said.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) welcomed the move and urged Ocampo to move with speed.

KNCHR vice-chairman Hassan Omar said Ocampo should go for the big fish among them Cabinet ministers, top police officers, civil servants, politicians, and businessmen who financed and plotted the violence.

Ocampo announced further consultations between coalition principals President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga and him would take place in the coming weeks.

Contrary to the expectations of politicians who were rooting for The Hague option arguing that, Ocampo has not turned his back on the establishment of a special tribunal, which is expected to try lesser offenders and address compensation of victims.

Ocampo is similarly considering a role for the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to address the reform mechanism by shedding light on the full history of past events, and to suggest mechanisms to prevent recurrence of such crimes.

The prosecutor took over the cases after he warned he would move in should Kenya fail to take action and create a special tribunal.

Ruling class

The move is likely to spin the political ruling class and business magnates implicated in the orgy of violence following the disputed 2007 presidential election.

The move comes after months of dilly-dallying as the Government failed to honour recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election violence chaired by Justice Philip Waki.

The commission had recommended a local mechanism to try the financiers, planners and perpetrators of the violence after the bungled 2007 presidential election.

When presenting the report to Kibaki and Raila, Waki handed over to Annan confidential documents on key suspects of the violence who were to be investigated once the tribunal was set up.

The Waki Report recommended that should the Government drag its feet on the matter, Annan would hand over the documents to the ICC.

The Government brought a Bill that proposed the setting up of a local tribunal, but a hostile Parliament shot it down.

Meeting in June

Members of the Coalition Government who were in the peace negotiations team met Annan in June to brief him on the progress on reforms agreed under Agenda 4 of the National accord.

Annan handed over the confidential documents on the key suspects to Ocampo in July.

The list is believed to comprise six Cabinet ministers, MPs, top civil servants, and businessmen.

A Government delegation met Ocampo on July 3, and agreed to push ahead with the desired reforms and agreed to report on progress by yesterday(Wednesday).

Yesterday, the International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) said, "nothing tangible has been implemented from the groundbreaking report".

They said in a statement that this raises grave legitimacy concerns on the Coalition Government’s commitment to bringing to justice those bearing greatest responsibility for post-election violence.

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