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.

Advertisements

Kibaki creates 20 provinces; ethnic clashes now feared

UPDATE – 22nd July 2009:

The Standard has reliably learnt that the number of sub-provinces is now 22 after two were added, reportedly to accommodate interests of certain communities in Nyanza and Rift Valley.

Southern Nyanza, which was initially lumped together with Eastern Nyanza, will now have its headquarters in Homa Bay. Eastern Nyanza will be administered from Kisii town and cater for the Gusii and Kuria. Also added to the list is Western Rift, to be governed from Kericho town. It was originally part of Western Rift Valley, which will now be called Eastern Rift with offices in Eldoret.

Read more on this story from the Standard daily >>

*********************************************

After he was warned against splitting Kenya’s provinces, President Mwai Kibaki has resorted to deceptive tactics to impose 20 new provinces through a bizarre concept of “sub-provinces.”

The new provincial units created by President Mwai Kibaki

The new provincial units created by President Mwai Kibaki

In an unexpected political maneuver last week, the President made far reaching changes in the Provincial administration. Not only did he replace at least 6 Provincial Commissioners, but he also introduced 20 deputy provincial commissioners to be in charge of the 20 “sub-provinces.” Meanwhile, all 210 constituencies have been declared as districts but the final district tally is 254, meaning that some constituencies have more than one district!

The interesting fact is that the President’s Party of National Unity (PNU) had earlier proposed splitting the country into 20 provinces. The proposal was however rejected by majority of legislators. Even ex-President Daniel arap Moi, who lately supports Kibaki, rejected the proposal arguing that it will worsen ethnic tensions especially in the Rift Valley Province.

There are now fears of a resurgence of ethnic clashes as the new provincial borders appear aligned on ethnic lines. For instance, the larger Nyanza Province was split into Kisumu and Kisii sub-provinces. Western Province has been split into Bungoma and Kakamega sub-provinces to separate the Bukusu community from the rest of the Luhyas.

In the Rift Valley, the Maasai have been given Narok sub-province, the Kikuyu have Nakuru sub-province while the Kalenjin have been allocated Eldoret sub-province. The pastoral communities of the Pokot, Turkana and Samburu will be administered from Lodwar sub-province.

Central Province has been split into three: Thika, Nyandarua and Nyeri sub-provinces.

The Kamba ethnic group now have the Machakos sub-province.  Embu sub-province will administer the Embu, Meru, Tharaka and Nithi ethnic groups. The nomadic communities in the northern sector of Eastern Province now fall under the Marsabit sub-province. Likewise, the Somali dominated North Eastern province has been split into Wajir and Garissa sub-provinces.

At the coast, the Taita have a sub-province at Voi, while the Mijikenda will have Mombasa sub-province. The rest of the Coastal communities, including the Pokomo and the Bajuni have been clustered under the Malindi sub-province.

Districts with a mixed ethnic composition will experience ethnic tension as controversy emerges over which sub-province will administer those districts. For instance, will the Kalenjin prefer Nakuru sub-province or Eldoret sub-province? In Western Province, which Luhya sub-tribes will want themselves under Bungoma sub-province and which ones will prefer the Kakamega sub-province?

Some districts in Nyanza Province have a mixed Luo and Kisii ethnic composition. Will such districts be placed under the Kisumu sub-province or under the Kisii sub-province? Where will the Kuria ethnic group be placed? Will they demand a sub-province of their own?

In Eastern Province, there will be tension over Isiolo District. The Meru will want it placed under their Embu sub-province but the nomadic groups will want it under Marsabit sub-province. The presence of significant Somali and Samburu populations in Isiolo will complicate the equation.

North Eastern province is ethnically homogeneous but clan affiliation among the Somali is very strong. Which Somali clans will prefer the Wajir sub-province as opposed to the Garissa sub-province?

It appears that President Kibaki does not understand the danger of what he has just done. Everybody – including the international community – warned him against splitting provinces but he has thrown caution to the wind and implemented his diabolical plan. How can a leader get things so wrong?

Should clashes arise from the creation of sub-provinces, Kibaki must bear full responsibility for deaths, injuries and the destruction of property. The beneficiaries of this sinister political strategy should likewise share the blame.

Ocampo to open envelope today

Kenya’s leaders are in panic mode as International Crimes Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, opens an envelope with a list of top ten perpetrators of the 2008 post election violence.

Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, told the BBC that he will open the envelope today. However, Ocampo will not disclose the names contained in the list but will instead wait for Kenyan authorities to establish an acceptable local tribunal to prosecute those who planned, funded and executed the violence.

According to the laws that guide the International Criminal Court, Ocampo can only take over prosecutions if convinced that the Kenyan authorities lack the will and capacity to do it.

At least 1,500 people died in the worst violence since Kenya’s independence. The violence was the culmination of a five year power struggle between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. Today, the two men preside over a fractious coalition government, with Kibaki as President and Raila serving as Prime Minister.

Separate reports by international human rights bodies, the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights and a Judicial Commission found leading personalities responsible for the violence. Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, clergy, councillors and security officers were variously found guilty of oathing, funding, organizing and issuing orders that led to massive slaughter.

Political parties and journalists were responsible for perpetuating hate speech against rival ethnic groups.

To prevent a repeat of the violence, the international community wants Kenya to prosecute all those who planned and perpetrated acts of looting, killing, rape and mass dislocation. With the masterminds still firmly in control of the state and media apparatus, justice for the innocent victims of post election violence has become an uphill battle.

One and a half years after the violence, Kenyan courts have not convicted a single person.

Hague to purge Kenya’s political class

The International Criminal Court at The Hague will be the much-needed purge of Kenya’s leadership, heralding the rise of new politicians hopefully free from corruption, tribalism and pettiness.

In history and political science, a purge is the removal of people who are considered undesirable from an organization or from society as a whole. Purges can be peaceful or violent; many will end with the imprisonment or exile of those purged, but in some cases they will simply be removed from office.

Should the International Criminal Court (ICC) make good on its threats to prosecute top political leaders for the 2008 post election violence, none will be left to continue the ongoing misruling of the republic. Prominent personalities from the entire political spectrum will be swept away in a tsunami of justice whose effects will likewise transform Kenya’s social, economic and political landscape.

Opinion polls show that the vast majority of Kenyans want the ICC to immediately take over the cases of those behind the post election violence. Admittedly, it will be several years before the ICC actually jails any of the bigshots but a few years of waiting is a worthy price to pay if we want a new order in Kenya.

Shortcuts in justice – such as a local tribunal – will be so heavily manipulated that nothing will change in Kenya. Even the so-called Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission will be a mere slap on the wrist for people implicated in heinous crimes against men, women and children.

ICC Chief Prosecutor, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, may not know this but he could be the messiah that Kenyans have been praying for. For quite some time, Kenya has been at a critical juncture. Conspicuous greed and avarice by the ruling elite has sown the seeds for violent overthrow by the oppressed and impoverished populace. The only reason why there hasn’t been a mass rebellion in Kenya is because nobody has risen up to be the torch-bearer.

By arresting, prosecuting and jailing the persons responsible for Kenya’s woes, the ICC could avert violent revolution in Kenya and therefore save uncountable lives. When Kenyans see the international justice system at work getting rid of their oppressors, there really will be no need to rise up against each other. However, if the ICC dilly-dallies and succumbs to the wishes of Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders, then the world should brace itself for continued ethnic strife in the country.

There comes a time in the history of any nation when a purge is necessary. Just like a tree revitalizes itself by shedding old leaves in order to grow new ones, Kenya has no choice but to discard a parasitic ruling class. The ICC is the tool to make this happen.

Charges Kibaki and Raila will face at The Hague

President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and their loyalists will answer charges of planning, financing and executing the deaths of at least 1,500 people in the period between December 2007 and April 2008.

political_toilet

Kibaki will answer charges relating to the use or misuse of the security services while Raila will be called upon to account for the actions of his supporters who were recorded in the international media chanting, “No Raila, No peace!!”

For Kibaki, the abductions, torture and disappearances of thousands of suspected Mungiki members could very well become a serious issue at The Hague. Kibaki lieutenants Uhuru Kenyatta, Njenga Karume, Kabando wa Kabando, Professor George Saitoti and others will answer for their roles in organizing revenge attacks by militia groups such as Mungiki. Prof Saitoti may face trial because he was appointed Minister for Internal Security in January 2008 as the violence began to peak. Saitoti is also on record as supporting the extra-judicial executions of Mungiki members (EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, its confusing, but The Hague will determine once and for all who ordered which killings).

Raila cohorts, William Ruto, Professor Peter Anyang Nyongo, Najib Balala, Jackson Kibor, John Pesa among many others will explain their utterances which were widely broadcast across the world and whose tapes are still in the possession of media houses. Raila will be held to account largely on the basis that the cries of “No Raila, no peace,” were made by his supporters. William Ruto will be forced to explain why severe ethnic violence took place in his backyard and why most of the victims blame him.

Nyong’o is on record justifying violence with arguments that, “one tribe cannot be allowed to dominate the country.” Kibor admitted on BBC radio of his involvement in ethnic cleansing at the Rift Valley while John Pesa is quoted instructing his constituents to take over businesses owned by migrant ethnic groups.

Najib Balala made the infamous “Lesotho” remark and has been implicated in funding violence at the coastal city of Mombasa. According to the Waki Report on Post Election Violence, Mombasa youths were given a daily stipend to engage in widespread looting of homes and businesses owned by immigrant ethnic groups.

Ethnic warlords find Truth Commission an easy way out

Faced with criminal charges for the deaths of 1,500 people, Kenya’s ruling elite now find the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission a convenient means of escaping jail.

Since it became obvious last year that punishment had to be meted out on those who planned, financed and executed post election violence, there has been loud disagreement over what to do with the perpetrators. The dilemma is over whether to have a locally constituted Special Tribunal or whether to just take the suspects to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are for a local tribunal. In fact, both men want Kenyans to “forgive and forget” the whole mess – their mess.

With a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), all one has to do is confess all the gory details of their crime and get an amnesty! With such confessions, the culprits of post election violence will sanitize themselves early enough for the 2012 General Elections! How convenient!

It is unfortunate that a respected personality such as Bethwel Kiplagat can propose the TJRC as a means of solving Kenya’s woes. Doesn’t he realize that people responsible for killings and rape will literally walk away scot free? But then, Ambassador Kiplagat has vested interests in the formation of a TJRC for he is slated to become a top commissioner, if not its head. But is it possible that this hitherto respected personality could stoop so low as to demean the concept of justice just for the sake of getting a job? Well, among Kenya’s cruel and corrupt elite, greed and avarice know no limits.

Other people proposed for the TJRC include former Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi and Presbyterian Church of East Africa clergyman Timothy Njoya. The rest are: Dr Maria Nzomo, Dr Elizabeth Muli, Tom Ojienda, Timothy Njoya, Dr Joseph Aluoch, Betty Murungi, Margaret Shava, Thomas Letangule, Abubakar Zein Abubakar, Joyce Miguda Majiwa, Tecla Namachanja, Maj Gen (rtd) Ahmamed Sheikh Farah and Dr Daadab Mohammed.

This list of names consists of people who have been hobnobbing with the political class for countless decades. Many in the above list have previously gotten high profile jobs thanks to lobbying by their political allies. Clearly, Kenyans should not count on the impartiality of the TJRC and its formation will promote impunity because those who have committed crimes against humanity will never be punished.

The best way – indeed the ONLY way – of ensuring that the events of 2007 -2008 are not repeated is to prosecute those implicated in funding, planning and participating in violence. Right now, the only mode of justice that Kenyans want is for the International Criminal Court to take over all cases and issue life jail terms to the likes of William Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta and their cronies, most of whom are easily identifiable.

Kenyans are looking upon International Criminal Prosecutor, Louis Moreno-Ocampo for the much needed purge of an oppresive ruling clique.

**************************************************

UPDATE:

Former UN chief Kofi Annan has now sent the envelope containing the list of post poll violence perpetrators to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Read this breaking story and reactions by Kenyans >>

*************************************************

Ethnic violence culprits escape justice again

One and a half years after the devastating violence that followed the December 2007 elections, not a single person has been prosecuted and jailed for the deaths of at least 1,500 people during a three month orgy of killing, looting and rape.

kingpins_of_violence

Lack of political will among Kenya’s ruling elite has bogged down the prosecution process, meaning that those behind the killing and destruction will not stand trial any time soon. Meanwhile, the desire among western powers for stability in Kenya explains why the International Criminal Court at The Hague gave one more year for Kenya to establish a tribunal to prosecute those who planned, financed and participated in the clashes.

Kenya’s ruling elite were behind the violence whose victims were mostly slum dwellers and impoverished peasants. There is clear evidence of top politicians making hate speeches, administering oaths and paying youths for the mayhem. The two leading presidential candidates in 2007 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga – kept silent as fighting raged in their names.

Even today, inter-ethnic relations in Kenya are fraught with tensions, as politicians are not eager to unite the people. Politicians have boycotted peace meetings called to reconcile warring tribes because it is easier to campaign on a platform of ethnic nationalism rather than a campaign of unity. Indeed, majority of Kenyan leaders are mere ethnic warlords with no interest in national unity. They want to isolate their tribes in order to enhance their own power and eventually pass the baton of leadership to their children. In effect, what we are seeing in Kenya is the rise of a feudal class that wants to monopolize political and economic power for generations to come.

For sure there is more-than-enough evidence to begin criminal prosecutions against those involved in the political and ethnic clashes. Thanks to the media, there are acres of tapes showing looting and actual killings taking place. Politicians were recorded preaching ethnic incitement to their followers. Others were taped threatening those ethnic groups that they thought would vote for rival candidates.

The Majimbo (federalism) debate stoked ethnic tension prior to the 2007 elections. Anyone with a political knowledge of Kenya would have known how the concept of Majimbo was used to perpetrate ethnic killings in the 1990s at the Rift Valley and Coast Provinces. To bring up the same debate in an election year was not only naive but extremely reckless. The consequences were easily predictable, especially with millions of unemployed youths eager to take over the properties of people perceived as “outsiders.”

Kenya’s politicians are split among themselves over whether to establish a local tribunal or to let the International Criminal Court do the work. And it all has to do with the 2012 Presidential elections when President Mwai Kibaki will be stepping down.

On the one hand, Kibaki and Raila want a local tribunal because they think that they can manipulate judges and intimidate witnesses, resulting in acquittals and light sentences. On the other hand, a second group of politicians led by William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta fear that a local tribunal will turn them into sacrificial lambs. Ruto led fighting in Eldoret on behalf of Raila while Uhuru organized retaliatory attacks by the Kikuyu ethnic group on behalf of Kibaki.

Ruto is loudly complaining that Raila has abandoned the youth who fought for his premiership. Ruto says that both Kibaki and Raila should face trial as everybody else was fighting for either of the two men. Ruto believes that Raila has a soft spot for Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, and having Ruto in jail would automatically clear the path for Mudavadi to succeed Raila sometime in future.

On his part, Uhuru believes that his political rivals want him jailed. His rivals in the Kibaki camp for the 2012 presidential elections are Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and former Justice Minister Martha Karua. It should be noted that Karua and Uhuru’s rivalry grew because Uhuru thought that Karua as Justice Minister was going to ensure that Uhuru was knocked out of the presidential succession race.

Uhuru and Ruto want the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take over the cases for several reasons:

  1. They perceive that the ICC will be much more fairer as it does not have a vested interest in the 2012 elections in Kenya.
  2. Court cases at the ICC take years to conclude. By 2012, the cases will not even have began and when they do, it is possible that either Uhuru and Ruto will be president and will therefore use state resources to escape prosecution.
  3. It will not be possible to take the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to The Hague to testify whereas a local tribunal will easily be accessible to IDPs.
  4. If the worst comes to the worst, Ruto and Uhuru can implicate both Kibaki and Raila at the ICC. Should we have a local tribunal, it will be very difficult to bring charges against the President and Prime Minister but the ICC is not intimidated by titles. After all, the ICC currently has a warrant of arrest for President Omar al Bashir of Sudan.

As for the Kenyan people, what do they want?

Kenyans want the entire political class to be taken to The Hague as this will ensure justice for the hundreds of thousands still suffering the effects of post-election violence. There are fears that, unless something is done stop to ethnic warlords, the next General Elections of 2012 will be the end of Kenya as we know it.

Just to show that Kenyans want The Hague Option, the Standard daily reports that the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) is questioning how a Parliament housing the perpetrators of the 2008 violence can agree on a law to incriminate itself. Many in the House have been named as purveyors of ethnic strife.

The NCCK’s Secretary General, Peter Karanja, has scoffed at the one year extension given to the Kenyan government by the ICC saying the repreive is a delaying tactic against justice.