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Kibaki Calls Emergency Cabinet Meeting over Special Tribunal


Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has called an emergency cabinet meeting today (Tuesday) to discuss the next step forward after parliament rejected a proposed government-sponsored constitutional amendment bill to set up a local tribunal. The proposed special tribunal was to prosecute alleged perpetrators of the 2007 post-election violence that rocked Kenya. Meanwhile, a member of the coalition government demanded the resignation of both president Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga shortly after parliament unanimously rejected the bill. Kenya's post-election violence led to the loss of lives and property prompting the international community's intervention and the formation of a unity government.

Michael Tiampati is a political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Tuesday's emergency cabinet meeting is expected to focus on the government's limited option of moving forward.

"Following the defeat or the rejecting by parliament of the proposal by government for the setting up of a local tribunal, that rejection actually threw the political scenario into some sort of disarray. And of course it had an impact on the public because in the public domain people are anxious to really figure out how and what is happening or what the so-called perpetrators of the 2008 post-election violence going to be tried," Tiampati noted.

He said most Kenyans are calling for the naming of those alleged to have been the instigators of the December 2007 post-election violence.

"Speculation is rife, especially at the grassroots level regarding the names in the mysterious envelope that is said to contain the names of five cabinet ministers. So, there is a measure of anxiety and of course there have been a clamour for the contents of the mysterious envelope to be made public. So, there is that anxiety and that urge for these names to be made public," he said.

Tiampati said the coalition government has been silent about the demand by one of its cabinet ministers for both President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resign after the rejection of the government proposed amendment.

"There has not been any sentiment from the principals that is President Kibaki and the prime minister regarding the Mutula Kilonzo (Nairobi Metropolitan Development minister) sentiments that the president and his prime minister should resign. But the question of course is that since Kilonzo himself is part of the government which was defeated in the parliament bill, I think it would have been prudent for him to have set the pace by resigning. So he has not been taken with a lot of weight because he should have resigned himself to demonstrate his displeasure or that he wasn't happy with what they are doing," Tiampati pointed out.

He said most Kenyans have lost faith in local tribunals.

"There is that feeling that local tribunals have had a very nasty history of not really delivering. So, the public have always viewed local tribunals or commissions of inquiry with a pinch of salt because we've had commissions after commissions and there have never been any tangible results. So, there is that fear that this may be that process that never gets anywhere. So Kenyans feel that there should be a departure from that past which is really negative. And therefore they would like the process that would deliver some results and they would want to see the perpetrators of the violence kind of tried in a way that would have a semblance of justice," he said.

Meanwhile, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan recently hinted he would send the names of Kenyan politicians and businessmen accused of orchestrating the 2007 post-election violence to the International Criminal Court in The Hague after failed attempts to set up a local tribunal.

Justice Philip Waki, who headed the probe into the post-election violence, gave Kenya until March 1 to create a local tribunal. However, Kenyan MPs on last Thursday failed to pass the necessary bill. Waki reportedly handed over a sealed envelope containing the names of the accused, which is thought to include some senior ministers, to Annan. The understanding was that Annan would hand it over to the ICC should Kenya not meet the deadline.

Annan has reportedly said that he and fellow members of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities would review what actions are needed to be taken in what he described as being in line with the spirit, letter and intent of the Waki' probe. He also warned justice must be done in order to avoid a repeat of the violence at Kenya's next election which is expected to

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