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Slow Kenya prosecution 'disappoints' US

Wednesday August 5 2009

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton address delegates during the official opening of the 8th Agoa summit in Nairobi on Wednesday. She expressed US disappointment at the slow pace of prosecuting post election violence suspects. Photo/ FREDRICK ONYANGO

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton address delegates during the official opening of the 8th Agoa summit in Nairobi on Wednesday. She expressed US disappointment at the slow pace of prosecuting post election violence suspects. Photo/ FREDRICK ONYANGO 

By DAVE OPIYO

The US is disappointed at the slow pace of prosecuting the masterminds of the post election violence, the country’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

She said that the formation of a local tribunal would be the best way to deal with the suspects since the process would be Kenya-owned.

“We are clearly disappointed that prosecutions have not taken place one and a half later. This therefore means that all relevant authorities must take their responsibilities seriously,” said the former US first lady at a news conference on the sidelines of the ongoing 8th Africa Growth and Opportunity Act forum in Nairobi.

“That is why we are encouraging Kenyans to resolve this matter internally and set up a local tribunal."

“It is better for Kenyans to resolve their internal issues alone, for this is in their best interest. The International Criminal Court (ICC) will not act if you have taken the lead role in resolving this matter,” she said.

Mrs Clinton, however, remained optimistic that the country’s leadership was 'up to the task’ and would resolve the thorny issue once and for all.

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At least 1,000 people were killed and about 650,000 evicted from their homes as a result of the violence.

Mrs Clinton, who was accompanied by Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula, spoke moments after attending a closed door meeting with the country’s top leadership.

Those who attended the meeting at Kenyatta International Conference Centre were President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and a host of other cabinet ministers and senior government officials.

Mrs Clinton’s sentiments comes barely a week after Cabinet gave up on the establishment of a local tribunal and decided to clean up the police force and local courts to try the suspects.

In a meeting held last Thursday at State House and chaired by President Kibaki, cabinet resolved to hand over those indicted by the ICC to chief prosecutor Luis  Moreno Ocampo.

They also resolved to change the law to give the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission more teeth besides making its membership more widely accepted.

The US Secretary of State conceded that the process of prosecuting the masterminds of the violence was not that simple.

She said: “We must accept that this process is indeed very complicated... how do you go about prosecuting these individuals without fanning more violence from their supporters?”

“This process takes a lot of political will and leadership. This is why we are saying that a local tribunal be established. This is best for Kenya,” said the US Secretary of State.

On whether the US would consider banning the suspects of the post election violence from setting foot there, she said: “These are options that are always available and open to us. We however hope that we don’t get to that point.”

President Kibaki assured the US government that the reform agenda was on course and would be completed 'within the shortest time possible.’

The government, said the president, intended to significantly reform its security, judicial and democratic processes and attain full accountability for all its actions.