Spirited bid to have cases against suspected poll chaos masterminds has the President walking on quicksand as it were, what with ethno and politico-jingoists throwing a spanner into the works as the next polls loom large over Kenya. By PATRICK WACHIRA
Just months before he bows out of Kenya’s top job, Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki appears bent on saving the skins of The Hague sextet, suspected to have masterminded the election violence of 2007/8, even at the expense of a tainted legacy.
Kibaki is now at the centre of the storm which he has orchestrated through his principal assistant, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and several cabinet ministers. These have been involved in what has come to be referred to as shuttle diplomacy. Kibaki and his ministers have spared no effort to have the cases of the suspected masterminds deferred by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Strangely, the President has made no overt or public statement about his latest endeavour. But his engagement with his juniors, dispatched to African states and other member countries of the United Nations, including Washington and New York, has left no one in doubt about his intentions.
Kibaki was among those who in 2008 and 2009 advocated for a local tribunal to try suspects of the post-poll mayhem that saw an estimated 1,000 people killed and thousands displaced. Indeed, he led a group of legislators to persuade Parliament to back a Bill for the establishment of a local tribunal. The Bill faced a rather hostile House, which rejected it and thus made the decision - now haunting MPs - to allow The Hague to try the suspects.
That there is a spirited attempt to have the cases before the ICC deferred begs many questions, not least, why the change of mind and why now, just months to the next General Election. By dispatching the VP and cabinet ministers to press for the deferral, Kibaki has waded into the labyrinth of succession politics, fronted by a political class that is famous for its penchant for self-perpetuation and self-aggrandisement. It is akin to walking on quicksand.
House Speaker Kenneth Marende, aptly and succinctly captured the situation when he told the MPs on March 22 to desist from “side shows, power games, posturing and retrogressive politics.”
As March drew to a close, the President signed into law several Bills, aimed at reforms deemed necessary before the next General Election and in accordance with a negotiated settlement after the poll chaos and famously called Agenda Four.
Reforms in the Judiciary, police and electoral law, with clear guidelines on succession after polls and other basic legal infrastructure, are in the pipeline, mainly as a means, apparently, for Kibaki to argue that the cases before the ICC should be referred to Kenya.
But with some 47 pieces of legislation that must be in place in the coming months, the path to reform, saddled with a bickering political elite, is fraught with stumbling blocks. The law on electoral reforms should be in place in four months.
By the time of going to press, the Ministry of Justice had drafted the Bills but was awaiting parliamentary input and approval before it could go to the Attorney General and the Committee on the Implementation of the Constitution.
The Minister for Justice Mr Mutula Kilonzo has distanced himself from claims of responsibility for the delay, saying the machinery is in place for the new laws to be effected.
Among the Bills that need to be in place before the ICC can even begin to consider the appeal to defer the cases against the six, are the Political (Amendment) Parties Bill (which guarantees government funding for parties), the Supreme Court Bill (for the setting up of a court above the Court of Appeal), and that for the establishment of an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
The Commission is aimed mainly at correcting the political gerrymandering occasioned by especially previous regimes to reward individuals and geographical areas perceived as supportive of the government of the day.
Judicial reforms are another thorn in the flesh and were to have started with the departure of former Chief Justice Evan Johnson Gicheru a month ago to pave way for a competitive recruitment process.
The President announced this towards the end of March, a dramatic departure from the previous trend when, before his powers were whittled down, he would appoint such officers.Clearly, the President has his hands full if he wants the ICC to listen to him
|< Prev||Next >|