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Cabinet team to weigh options

Tuesday July 21 2009

 

By PETER LEFTIE and BERNARD NAMUNANE

A Cabinet sub-committee on Tuesday began exploring other options available to try post-election violence suspects.

The sub-committee comprising five ministers met as it emerged that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga had taken a tough line on Monday, calling for a quick agreement on a local tribunal.

Sources said the expanded team of Ministers Mutula Kilonzo, George Saitoti, James Orengo, Amason Jeffa Kingi, Otieno Kajwang’ and Attorney-General Amos Wako met to explore alternatives after no consensus could not be reached on a local tribunal.

The team is expected to either fine-tune the independent tribunal Bill to make it palatable to all Cabinet members or propose alternative ways of prosecuting the suspected violence masterminds.

The sub-committee is expected to report back to Cabinet next Monday.

Reached for comment, Mr Kilonzo, who is Justice minister insisted he would not amend controversial clauses that prompted some ministers to oppose the draft Bill.

“I am not going to review any of the provisions and I have made this clear to my colleagues. If anything, I will insulate it further by protecting it from the powers of the Kenyan law courts,” he said.

Mr Orengo, who is Lands minister said the tribunal had to meet the standards of the Rome Statute. “We have an obligation to apply the Rome Statute,” he said.

Among the five options the committee will look at are turning over suspects to The Hague; setting up a special division of the High Court with international participation; reverting to the first Bills on the special tribunal that were rejected; turning to the High Court to prosecute the offenders; or for Kenya to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

Differed strongly

Kenya has until September 30 to set up a local tribunal that meets the Rome Statute standards or risk having the suspects flown to the Hague for trial at the ICC.

At the Monday meeting, ministers differed strongly, forcing President Kibaki to adjourn it to next Monday. It was the second time in two weeks that the Cabinet had failed to endorse the Bill.

On Tuesday, it emerged that President Kibaki and Mr Odinga supported a local tribunal and urged ministers to adopt it.

— Additional reporting by Oliver Mathenge