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Kenya MPs snub debate on local tribunal Bill

Wednesday November 11 2009

MPs in Parliament. Photo/FILE

MPs in Parliament. Photo/FILE 


Parliament on Wednesday failed to debate a Bill seeking to establish a local tribunal due to lack of quorum.

The Bill, tabled by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, seeks to establish a tribunal to try the masterminds of last year’s post-election violence. Only 30 out of 222 MPs were required to debate it, but only 18 were present.

MPs from Rift Valley — the epicentre of the violence — as well as the majority of their central Kenya counterparts were not in the House when the debate started.

Mr Imanyara accused the government of sabotaging debate on the Bill because, he claimed, it did not want a special tribunal established.

He spoke after debate on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill (No 3) was called off because there were only 18 MPs in the House at the time Gwasi MP John Mbadi notified deputy Speaker Farah Maalim that the House did not have a quorum. The bell was rung for members to come to the chambers but there was still no quorum.

Mr Imanyara left the chambers to ask his colleagues to join the debate. He walked back a few minutes later, alone.

“This clearly is an act of sabotage by the government and as you can see very few of them are here to support the Bill,” said Mr Imanyara.

Environment minister John Michuki said he did not attend the debate because he was opposed to a clause in the Bill stripping the President of immunity from prosecution.

Mr Michuki said he would vote for the Bill if the clause was removed because he supported a local tribunal.

“Is Imanyara after the President or local prosecution? What is important to him? With this clause, he seems to say that the presidency is the issue.”

Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo denied the government planned to frustrate efforts to form a tribunal.

Last week, Mr Kilonzo confirmed that he had informed the Cabinet of his intention to take over and amend the Bill.

Moving the debate, Mr Imanyara pleaded with MPs to support the formation of the Special Tribunal.

Seconding, Garsen MP Danson Mungatana said the nature of the crimes committed after the General Election was extraordinary because the violence threatened the existence of Kenya as a state.

He also sought to absolve the Attorney General of claims he had failed by not prosecuting post-election violence suspects.

“It is not the failure as such of the Attorney General, but the law that existed then. The current laws are incapable of dealing with the crimes committed then,” he said and challenged MPs to provide leadership, saying it was important that justice be done to all irrespective of status.

Supported Bill

Assistant minister Wilfred Machage supported the Bill.

Earlier, Internal security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh had explained the ministers’ absence, saying they were attending a climate change workshop that was opened by Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the next door Inter-Continental Hotel.

However, the Nation established that only Mr Odinga and Forestry minister Noah Wekesa were at the meeting.