Kenyans reject Truth Commission, local trials

The Grand Coalition has come under scathing attack from angry Kenyans, who have been dismayed by the decision to have a Truth Commission instead of criminal prosecution for the perpetrators of political and ethnic clashes.

President Mwai Kibaki addressing journalists last Thursday when announcing the controversial government decision.

President Mwai Kibaki addressing journalists last Thursday when announcing the controversial decision by the cabinet.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga want to shield their key allies from both the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal constituted in Kenya. Individuals implicated in organizing, funding or complicity in violence were seen grinning behind Kibaki as he announced that he was getting them off the hook.

Opinion polls show that a vast majority of Kenyans want the ruling classes to be stripped of their positions and face criminal charges at the International Criminal Court. There is widespread belief that the international justice process will be more credible than justice in Kenyan courts.

The sad reality is that, 18 months after post election violence, nobody has been jailed with most cases ending in acquittals. This has not inspired confidence among the estimated 500,000 survivors of the clashes. Most of them still survive in squalid camps with little government assistance.

Kenyans want a radical change in their governance structure. For many years, attempts at economic, social and political reforms have either been frustrated or hijacked by the ruling elite. Politicians have vast powers to appoint cronies to state positions and to allocate resources as they wish. Economic liberalization has only benefited the well-connected and Kenyan industry is dominated by companies allied to or owned by politicians. Corruption is the order of the day as nothing works without a word from “above.”

Today, recruitment into government jobs is a waste of time as politicians manipulate the process to benefit supporters from their ethnic groups. The recent recruitment of personnel for the August national census has been marred by favoritism and bribery. Rather than benefit the millions of unemployed youth, temporary census jobs have been allocated to teachers and civil servants already on the government payroll. In several districts, youths have vowed to disrupt the census unless the recruitment of enumerators is repeated.

Over the years, little has been done to fight corruption, ethnic violence and other crimes committed by the rich and powerful. This has fostered a culture of impunity because guilty parties do not suffer any consequences. Politicians in Kenya have become demi-gods who can get away with theft, murder, incitement and adultery. Moral rectitude among Kenya’s leaders has plummeted as they engage in torrid love affairs with married women from poor families. Girls seeking assistance for school fees or jobs are forced to perform sex acts, sometimes within parliamentary offices.

The culture of evil among Kenyan leaders has sparked bitterness among ordinary people. For many years, there was little that could be done about it as the masses suffered their indignities in silence. The prospects of sending powerful personalities to the International Criminal Court offers a chance at national renewal. As stated elsewhere in this website, the international justice process offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to purge the Kenyan political system of vermin pretending to be leaders.

Though the cabinet announced that it will support criminal prosecutions through the Judiciary, few expect this to happen. If anything, most of the talk was on “forgiveness and reconciliation.” Cabinet ministers repeated similar themes throughout the weekend at various public rallies as though they had been ordered to sell the idea to Kenyans.

As a measure of how far the government was willing to go in shielding ministers from international prosecution, President Kibaki candidly revealed that they considered withdrawing Kenya from the statutes that created the International Criminal Court.

“One of the options considered was withdrawal from the Rome Statute under Article 127 and repeal of the International Crimes Act, 2008,” said the President.

There has also been speculation that, because Kenya signed the International Crimes Act after the post election violence had subsided, there was a legal argument that the new law can only be applied after its been enacted. According to the Constitution of Kenya, a law cannot be applied on crimes committed prior to its inception.

It is clear that politicians are using every legal loophole to escape justice. Among those mentioned in various human rights reports are Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Agriculture Minister William Ruto, Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama and Tourism Minister Najib Balala.

Political activist Mary Wambui, widely believed to be Kibaki’s second wife, has been implicated in organizing and funding ethnic militia.

Other prominent politicians who will face criminal charges in future include: Professor Peter Anyang Nyongo, Dr Sally Kosgey, Henry Kosgey, Elizabeth Ongoro, Franklin Bett, Kabando wa Kabando, Njenga Karume, John Pesa, Jayne Kihara, Ramadhan Kajembe and their respective supporters.

A host of councilors, security officers and political activists have been named by the Waki Commission of Inquiry and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

In the past few months, as pressure mounted on the government to act against the masterminds of political violence, the suspects have vowed to implicate both the President and Prime Minister. The argument has been that Kibaki and Raila benefitted from the violence and, therefore, cannot avoid responsibility. While Raila used mass violence to protest what he sees as electoral fraud that denied him the presidency, Kibaki was silent as violence raged on his behalf.

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2 Responses

  1. This piece certainly captures the tragedy facing our nation. But what can ordinary Kenyans do to rid themselves from this evil, murderous and kleptocratic elite that rules Kenya?

    Lets start discussing solutions along these lines rather than describing our sad state of affairs over and over again.

  2. Kenya is basically a country with a difference. When the problems we have in our country are so deep, the unholy nexus of politicians and the media take hold of the national psyche to drive us into oblivion. Lets us analyse the statement from your article “Kenyans Reject Truth Commission, Local Trials.”
    The Grand Coalition has come under scathing attack from angry Kenyans, who have been dismayed by the decision to have a Truth Commission instead of criminal prosecution for the perpetrators of political and ethnic clashes. President Mwai Kibaki addressing journalists last Thursday when announcing the controversial decision by the cabinet. President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga want to shield their key allies from both the International Criminal Court and a Special Tribunal constituted in Kenya. Individuals implicated in organizing, funding or complicity in violence were seen grinning behind Kibaki as he announced that he was getting them off the hook.
    First and foremost the most politically conscious Kenyans are either supporters of Kibaki or Raila if the last elections is anything to go by. During the last elections, they cheered Kibaki even as he was pushing the nation towards a Capitalism-Gikuyu-Embu-Meru-centric agenda. The other side of the political divide opposed that agenda at all costs. At the pinnacle of the conflict exemplified by murder, plunder and more, the supporters of each group cheered and jeered. The truth of the matter is that a majority of those who neither supported Kibaki and Raila are equally culpable. They are the lot that sits on the fence and when things go wrong they begin talking with the wisdom of the sages. But how do they help when their contribution to democracy is so wanting! The truth of the matter is that so many Kenya’s stand accused. I don’t know how anyone can even try al of us.
    Lets as stop pretending that what happened last year is the worst debauchery occasioned in this country by the politicians-media nexus. Corrupt politicians and the media are grand standing at the expense of collapsing ecologies supported by the Mau system. Corrupt politicians and the media stroke the embers of the nascent post independence greed that has led to so much underdevelopment in Kenya-from shameless land grabbing, retaining obnoxious colonial structures and processes that had been instrumental in pacifying the “primitive native”, lopsided policies, and discriminative development agenda, to intentional stifling of progress in some parts of the country. When both Kenyatta and Moi denigrated the Luo, the Somali and others, a lot of their kinsmen, supported by the press they control cheered with thunderous glee. When Kibaki started taking back from the Kalenjin, a lot of his kinsmen did the same. When during Moi’s tenure a lot of Kikuyu indigenous banks started tumbling down, it was time for celebration for others. Last years fights were about some of these issues. Tell me how the Hague or any tribunal is going to address these.
    Whenever I see people dying of famine, I see the failure of our political system. My argument herein is that Kenya has not adopted a green revolution because it is not a priority. The priority at the moment is to ascertain that the welfare of the rich, be they are natives, Asian or foreigners, whether they have invested in finance, production, agriculture, tourism, property, ICT, inter alia, is accorded utmost attention. Everything else is secondary. A failure that is borne by greed of our politicians and supported by the press that is forever feeding us with crass! I have for example waited to be told, backed by scientific evidence why the Hague or a national tribunal is a better alternative, but what I get are pieces of conjectures that oscillates depending on which Mass media or politician though the mass media is holding sway at an instance
    A lot of Kenyans are guilty and stands accused and you can not use Hague or otherwise to heal a national malady. What Kenyans need today is a truth commission. But a truth commission whose agenda, in the words of Chinua Achebe begins from when the rains stated beating us and whose agenda is to find out why we are as rotten as a country. The 2008 debacle will then be a tiny subject under the much bigger picture!
    As for crimes that have been committed in this country, our criminal justice system weak as it is still running. Even Hague or a national tribunal will depend on it! Weak as it is, it epitomizes our national culture.

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