Ruto rallies 15 MPs against local tribunal

Friday August 21 2009

Minister for Agriculture William Ruto addressing a crowd at Kuresoi during a home coming party for the Kuresoi MP Zakayo Cheruiyot. Ruto on Friday led 15 MPs in dismissing a fresh push for a local tribunal to try post-election violence suspects. PHOTO/ FILE

Minister for Agriculture William Ruto addressing a crowd at Kuresoi during a home coming party for the Kuresoi MP Zakayo Cheruiyot. Ruto on Friday led 15 MPs in dismissing a fresh push for a local tribunal to try post-election violence suspects. PHOTO/ FILE  

By BENSON NYAGESIBA and OLIVER MATHENGE

Kenya's Agriculture minister William Ruto on Friday led 15 MPs in dismissing a fresh push for a local tribunal to try post-election violence suspects.

The PNU and ODM lawmakers vowed to shoot down the Bill in Parliament.

Mr Ruto was speaking in Trade assistant minister Omingo Magara’s Mugirango North constituency where he was chief guest at a school funds drive.

Fell ill

The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2009 is fronted by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara and has been presented to House Speaker Kenneth Marende for approval.

Mr Imanyara had promised a public reading of the Bill’s 62 clauses but fell sick on Tuesday with an undisclosed illness.

He was still being treated at a city hospital last night.

The Bill has gained support from, among others Prime Minister Raila Odinga and ministers Mutula Kilonzo, James Orengo, Anyang’ Nyong’o, Moses Wetang’ula and Otieno Kajwang’.

Those who threw in their lot with Mr Ruto included assistant ministers Charles Keter, Omingo Magara, Adan Dualle and Cecily Mbarire (PNU).

ODM MPs included Fred Kapondi, Moses Lessonet, Ababu Namwamba, Benjamin Langat, Mohammed Gabbow, Wilfred Ombui, Ganya Chachu and Charles Onyancha. Others were Jeremiah Kioni (PNU), Isaac Muoki (ODM-K) and Dr Robert Monda (Narc).

Speaking at a fundraising meeting in North Mugirango constituency, the MPs expressed their suspicions at Mr Imanyara’s sudden change from his earlier support of The Hague option.

They accused him of intimidating those opposed to the Bill when he declared that colleagues who voted against it would be supporting impunity.

Mr Ruto said it was unnecessary to dwell on a local tribunal when Parliament had decided that suspects should be tried at The Hague.

“If Mr Imanyara wants his Bill to go through, he should include the prosecution of those who stole the election and funded violence,” he said.

Was ridiculous

Ms Mbarire said it was ridiculous for a lawyer like Mr Imanyara “to lose direction”.

“I don’t understand the motive of Mr Imanyara’s Bill as he is on record supporting The Hague option,” she said.

Mr Keter said MPs opposed to the Bill were just waiting for it to be taken to Parliament to shoot it down.

Mr Langat said Parliament had already made a decision on the issue while Mr Magara said Parliament’s decisions should be respected.

He wondered why Mr Imanyara wanted to re-visit an issue that had been discussed and resolved.
But the Bill gained support on Friday when Tetu MP F.T. Nyammo threw his weight behind it.

He said he was happy with a clause that seeks to deny the President powers to assent the Bill into law and the one which gives the Speaker powers to effect the law through a gazette notice once Parliament passes it.

Meanwhile, two human rights NGOs have appealed to the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs to facilitate “candid” consultations in and out of Parliament on the Bill.

“Parliament has a responsibility and duty to support efforts to break free from the culture of impunity and bring perpetrators of the post-election violence to justice,” said a statement signed by Mr Ndungu Wainaina on behalf of the International Center for Policy and Conflict and Haki Focus.