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Kenyans Indignant Over Cabinet Indecision


Kenyans are expressing outrage after the coalition cabinet postponed a decision on dealing with alleged perpetrators of 2008 post-election violence.

Cabinet ministers are sharply split between using a local tribunal or the International Criminal Court (ICC) which led to the postponement of a decision until next week.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are reportedly in favor of using a local tribunal to put those accused of masterminding the post-election violence on trial.

But a recent Steadman poll shows more than 68 percent of Kenyans favor sending the perpetrators to the ICC.

Political analyst Michael Tiampati told VOA that a local tribunal could be manipulated by politicians.

"The general reaction of Kenyans at the countryside is that of disbelief and frustration. Because Kenya is confronted by a multiplicity of issues, and the image of the country is at stake. And what is appearing is that there is despondency at the cabinet level, which should not be the case," Tiampati said.

He said Kenyans are questioning their leaders judgment on how to deal with those behind the post-election violence.

"In terms of leadership, Kenya is currently suffering a leadership crisis… and Kenyans have said that with the coming together of the two sides and said it will get working, but that is not the case anymore," he said.

Tiampati said divisions within the government contributed to its indecisiveness.

"The government has not been one, has been pulling in two different directions. And this is playing out now because when the envelope was handed to the prosecutor (Luis Moreno) Ocampo, then a section of the government started saying that people actually fought because of President Kibaki and the Prime Minister Raila Odinga," Tiampati said.

He said some Kenyans favor both the president and prime minister facing prosecution over the post-election violence.

"What they are saying is that if there have to be people to be prosecuted, the two principals should be in the mix because people fought because of them," he said.

Tiampati said there is growing fear that sending the perpetrators to the ICC could undermine the country's stability.

"There is that fear that by taking the culprits to The Hague, then that would plunge the country into chaos. My take is that that is what the president and the prime minister are trying to forestall," Tiampati said.

He said Kenyans want the accused to be internationally prosecuted.

"The people are unanimous that the perpetrators should face justice at The Hague because the Kenyan judiciary has lost credibility. There is a feeling that a local tribunal would be prone to manipulation by the political elite…a cabinet minister said in broad daylight that he wanted a tribunal that they could control," he said.

Earlier this month, the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan handed over an envelope containing the names of 10 suspects to the ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. The move is believed to put more pressure on the Kenya coalition government either to establish a local court quickly or face international justice.

Meanwhile, it has come to light that the names of some cabinet ministers are listed among the accused masterminds of Kenya's 2008 post-election violence. The violence left scores dead and hundreds displaced from their homes.

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