Thursday, November 27, 2008

Leaders in Waki list to lose Cabinet posts

Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's (R) hands are seen as he receives a sealed envelope the report on Kenya's post election violence in 2007 from Justice Philip Nyamu Waki, head of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence, at his hotel in Nairobi. Photo/FILE

Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's (R) hands are seen as he receives a sealed envelope the report on Kenya's post election violence in 2007 from Justice Philip Nyamu Waki, head of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence, at his hotel in Nairobi. Photo/FILE 

By DAVID MUGONYI

Politicians named in the Waki list will have to quit their Cabinet posts and those found guilty of election violence offences barred from ever running for public office if proposals tabled before the Cabinet are approved.

Sources who have seen the proposals prepared by a team headed by Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua, on Thursday said this was the only way to end impunity and stop politicians from using their communities to cause violence every election year.

Doom for politicians

If adopted, the proposals could spell doom for politicians whose names appear in the Waki list, which was handed over to former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in a sealed envelope.

The list of six Cabinet ministers and five MPs is to be handed over to the International Criminal Court at The Hague if a local tribunal is not set up to try them by March 1.

A law to create the tribunal is expected to have been signed by December 17, according to the timetable set out in the Waki report on post-election violence.

After Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, ministers agreed that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga lead a 10-member committee that will start the implementation of the Waki report.

The formation of the committee means that the Government backs a local tribunal. It also emerged that the Cabinet agreed to try and beat the December 17 deadline for passing the law to form the tribunal.

The Cabinet also approved plans to disband the Electoral Commission of Kenya when it agreed to create an interim body to take over the functions of the team led by Mr Samuel Kivuitu.

A statement from the Presidential Press Services said the Cabinet had approved a move to create an Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), which will spearhead reforms on elections and give confidence to the referendum on the constitution expected next year.

On the Waki report, the Cabinet committee headed by President Kibaki and Mr Odinga will prepare a work-plan on how the report is to be implemented.

Other members of the committee are Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and ministers Karua, James Orengo, Moses Wetang’ula, Sally Kosgei, Sam Ongeri, Ruto and Mutula Kilonzo — all members of the Serena negotiating team. The committee will prepare its report and present it to Cabinet.

Sources said the Waki report could be discussed again before being forwarded to Parliament.

Local tribunal

The Government has until December 17 to start the process of setting up a local tribunal to investigate suspects or else the Waki envelope will handed over to the International Criminal Court.

Although the Waki report had split the Cabinet, ministers now back its full implementation. Mr Ruto, who was initially critical of the report, changed his position last weekend and supported its implementation.

At one point, he threatened to quit ODM if the Prime Minister continued to push for full implementation of the report.

In line with reforms in electoral laws, the Cabinet also approved plans to create an Interim Boundaries Review Commission, which will demarcate constituency boundaries.

The meeting also adopted the Kriegler report, which investigated last December’s presidential election results that are believed to have sparked the post-election violence in which 1,133 people were killed and over 300,000 displaced from their homes.

Sources told the Nation that the guidelines by Ms Karua also propose that the Cabinet makes tough political decisions to end impunity by stopping politicians who manipulate their communities to cause violence for political reasons.

It is understood that Ms Karua warned that the country was sitting on a time-bomb and cannot guarantee the rule of law and security unless decisive steps are taken against those who organised the violence.

The Justice minister is also said to have proposed that the implementation of the report be guided by the spirit and letter of the National Accord that created the Grand Coalition on February 28, ending the two months of post-election violence.

Ms Karua said that the reforms required would not be possible without support from the Government, Parliament and political parties.

In her guidelines, Ms Karua has proposed that some of the recommendations by the Waki Commission be implemented through the constitutional review process and others through the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

Contentious reforms will be implemented through comprehensive review of the Constitution.

The sub-committee to be led by the President will work with the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney-General’s office to prioritise the reforms required in the implementation of the report.

Sources further told the Nation that the guidelines also propose the immediate merger between the regular and the Administration Police forces.

Professional officer

The new force, it is recommended, should be led by a professional police officer. Currently, the force is led by a Major-General from the Kenya Army.

Ms Karua also proposes the creation of an Independent Police Conduct Authority in line with the Waki recommendations. The authority will have legislative powers and authority to investigate police conduct.

The Cabinet also approved plans to import five million bags of maize to boost the strategic food reserve. At the same time, the National Cereals and Produce Board will release 700,000 bags of maize to millers in the next three weeks to cushion Kenyans from rising maize flour prices.

A 2kg-packet of maize flour has been retailing at between Sh95 and Sh98 after falling from a high of Sh120 last week. Last December the same packet cost Sh48.

Sources said debate on rising flour prices was stormy with Cabinet ministers Chirau Mwakwere, George Saitoti, William ole Ntimama and John Michuki questioning what was happening.

Food riots

It is understood that the ministers said the country cannot afford to have food riots with Mr Mwakwere claiming there were up to five ships in the high seas with tons of maize destined for Kenya.

And in Parliament, House Speaker Kenneth Marende ruled that courts cannot stop Parliament from making a law that could pave the way for the sacking of the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

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