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Keep your word on Westgate attack, Raila Odinga tells President Uhuru Kenyatta

By JACOB NG’ETICH | December 1st 2013
            Former Prime Minister and CORD leader, Raila Odinga addresses supporters at a past function. PHOTO:COURTESY



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Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga yesterday accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of not keeping his word on the formation of a tribunal to investigate the Westgate Mall terror attack.

In an exclusive interview with The Standard on Sunday, the former Prime Minister said his Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) would get to the bottom of the matter.

He said the conduct of Uhuru clearly shows the President is not keen to unravel what exactly happened before, during and after the attack.

“The conduct of President Kenyatta raises a lot of questions. He promised to form a tribunal to do a proper audit of the incident and the aftermath but he does not seem keen to do it while many questions remain unanswered and Kenyans remain in the dark,” said Raila.

In what might be a showdown between Cord and Jubilee in Parliament, Cord MPs and Senators have lined up two motions next week to set up a commission to investigate the September Westgate attack.

Tabling motions

The former prime minister said the Cord brigade in the Senate and the National Assembly would table the motions for the establishment of a bipartisan select committee from both Houses to investigate the circumstances surrounding the attack.

 “We want the committees from both Houses to interrogate the matter and get to the bottom of it so as to answer the many glaring questions. Cord is insisting on a committee similar to the one that investigated the murder of JM Kariuki,” the Cord leader said. 

He said the 14-days ultimatum they had given the President ends on Tuesday and they will, therefore, move into action and table the motions that he said, he expects the Jubilee lawmakers to back.

While addressing the nation a day after the attack, Uhuru promised to form a tribunal to look into the Westgate Mall tragedy. Siaya Senator James Orengo will table the motion in the Senate.

Raila said the opposition had noted the Government was dragging its feet on the Westgate attack matter while using it to demand a cessation of trial for the President and his Deputy at the ICC.

Foreign policy

“They say the attack is shaping the country’s foreign policy and has been the reason for a swift closure of refugee camps yet there is no attempt to get to the bottom of it. Cord will be pushing for a select committee with full subpoena power to investigate the circumstances that led to the attack,” he said.

Mr Orengo said he had started lobbying his Senate counterparts to support the initiative which would see the committee authorised to investigate within a specified period of time, all circumstances related to the attack, including whether fraud, abuse or lapses by security and intelligence agencies led to the attack and loss of lives.

“The committee also would examine the roles of intelligence gathering, the response teams, including claims of looting,” said Orengo.


 Aware of siege

Two weeks ago, Cord leaders claimed the Government could have been aware of the September 21 terrorist attack at Westgate Shopping Mall but did not prevent it.

During the Cord Parliamentary Group meeting at Orange House, the leaders flanked by Cord leader Raila Odinga, former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and former Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, said they were giving President Uhuru a 14-day ultimatum to form a commission of inquiry into the Westgate attack failure to which they would take drastic actions or tell Kenyans the whole truth regarding the incident. “We know so many Kenyans died during that incident and then you have seen so many unfortunate things thereafter. So this country requires a proper inquiry into the incident,” said Raila after the meeting.

Nominated Senator Agnes Zani said during the conference that they were aware that there was resistance from National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS), Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and other police officers against formation of the commission.

 No one held

In an interview with The Standard on Sunday Gwassi MP John Mbadi said it was strange that no one has so far been held to account for the heinous act. “This is strange and sinister. No one has been held to account for the Westgate terror attack,” said Mbadi.

Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro said he had not received any notice for such a motion but welcomed it. “I think it is a good idea. Maybe the senator is still cooking it. Let’s wait for it to come to the House,” said Ethuro.

However, Kiambu Senator Paul Wamatangi said Jubilee senators would not support the motion given that the Cord counterparts had an opportunity to interact with all the top security personnel in the country but did not ask them some of those questions. Wamatangi said that they would not allow Cord to take security matters to the political podium when the Government was busy working round the clock to serve Kenyans and ensure they were secure.

“The motions are nothing but Cord’s attempt to attract attention after they realised that President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto are hands on and deal with the issues as they arise,” said Wamatangi.

He said investigations are not done on the political arena and noted that arrests had been made and the Government was getting to the bottom of all the security situations in the country.

Lagdera MP Mohamed Shindiye said the motion would be defeated in the House because it is purely politics and nothing to do with security.

“Cord are playing politics in the move. If it is security, let them share with the security operators whatever information they have, otherwise they should not be allowed to drag such an important and sensitive matter to politics,” said Shidiye.

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