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ODM defies Raila and rejects Waki report

Thursday October 30 2008

Some ODM leaders led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga (centre) after a previous meeting. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

Some ODM leaders led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga (centre) after a previous meeting. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE 

ODM on Thursday rejected the Waki report on post-election violence as its leaders said they would resist attempts to charge any of the those named in a secret list of suspected perpetrators.

Several Cabinet ministers criticised Prime Minister Raila Odinga over his stand that the Waki report be implemented in full.

Among those who took on the PM were ministers Charity Ngilu, Wycliffe Oparanya, Dalmas Otieno and Fred Gumo.

The list, with the names of six Cabinet ministers and five MPs, was handed over to chief mediator Kofi Annan.

It is to be forwarded to the International Criminal Court for the suspects to be tried at the Hague if the Government fails to set up a local tribunal by March 1.

PNU leaders are expected to issue an official statement on the report on Friday.

Stormy meeting

On Thursday, 75 ODM MPs — among them Mr Odinga and 11 Cabinet ministers — emerged from a four-hour stormy meeting and declared that the report contained “incurable errors”. They also said that it contradicted the Constitution.

Trouble began when Kipkelion MP Julius Kones said that all ODM leaders and MPs should be included in the list of suspects since they called for mass action, which led to the post-election chaos.

The post-election chaos, sparked by the announcement of disputed presidential election results on December 30, last year, left over 1,200 people dead and 300,000 displaced.

Mrs Ngilu said that Mr Odinga and President Kibaki should top the list of suspects because the rest were acting on their behalf.

However, Mr Odinga warned that the international community was watching Kenya to see whether it would implement the report.

And a group of NGO leaders asked the international community to step in to ensure that the report is implemented. They criticised ODM for rejecting it.

But in a strongly worded statement delivered at Parliament Buildings, the ODM MPs said: “ODM has resolved to reject the Waki report.”

The party leaders argued that the Waki report contained “fundamental flaws” and accused the commission of overstepping its the mandate by naming the suspects.

However, the US and German ambassadors to Kenya demanded that the Waki report be implemented in full. They also asked its critics to declare their fears.

The two, Mr Michael Ranneberger and Mr Walter Lindner, said the international community was watching keenly to see how the Government handles the Waki and Kriegler reports.

According to them, it was the responsibility of President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to ensure that the reports are implemented.

They described the Waki report as “credible and good” and said its recommendations were capable of ending decades of impunity. They were speaking at Serena Hotel in Nairobi.

Back at Parliament Buildings, the ODM MPs and those from affiliated parties said they had considered the advice of a team of law experts, which “found inherently incurable errors and fundamental constitutional contradictions in most sections of the Waki report.”

ODM’s decision came on a day that Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka also called for the shelving of the report. The VP said that though the victims of the violence deserved justice, implementing the report could open old wounds.

The Waki commission, which investigated the causes of post-election violence, has given the Government 60 days to form a special tribunal to try the suspects.

If this is not done, the names in a secret and sealed envelope will be forwarded to the International Court of Justice (ICC).

Legal experts have said that it was futile for the Government to reject the report because the International Court, which sits at The Hague, the Netherlands, will move fast to act should the deadline given by the Waki team pass.

ODM said it would shield any of their members whose names may be in the secret list. They said Kenya’s institutions had not collapsed to warrant such a trial.

“ODM, being part of the Grand Coalition Government, will resist and stop any “rendition” or surrender of Kenya’s citizens to a tribunal outside its territory.”

There were sharp differences between those who wanted the report implemented in full and those who opposed it.

Mr Odinga, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Lands minister James Orengo had called for the implementation of the report.

However, Cabinet ministers William Ruto, William ole Ntimama, Henry Kosgey and Fred Gumo have rejected the report.

The party’s decision now contradicts that of the PM. It came just two days after 26 party MPs defied the top leadership to call off an earlier meeting to discuss the report.

When the 26 emerged from a meeting earlier in the week, they said the party had not taken a position on the report. They blamed party leaders for passing their personal views as those of the party.

Thursday’s statement was read by ODM Parliamentary Group secretary Ababu Namwamba who was flanked by Mr Odinga, Mr Mudavadi, Mr Ruto, Mr Orengo, Mr Kosgey and Mr Gumo.

However, Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka, whose party is an affiliate member of ODM, dismissed the decision saying it was tantamount to endorsing impunity.

At a press conference after the meeting, Mr Onyonka recorded his dissenting view saying the Waki report addressed critical issues that the country needed to deal with once and for all.

The stormy meeting saw Mr Orengo withdraw and apologise over remarks he had made that those named in the list should carry their own crosses.

Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno also warned that any attempts to sideline Mr Ruto and Rift Valley MPs would sound the death knell for ODM.