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Kenya Rights Group Denies Effort to Link Minister to 2008 Violence

  • Peter Clottey

CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 -Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya, Kenya Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger - World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, June 10, 2009

CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 -Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya, Kenya Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger - World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, June 10, 2009

The chairperson of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has dismissed as preposterous accusations her organization bribed and coached witnesses to implicate suspended Higher Education minister William Ruto in the 2008 post-election violence.

Florence Simbiri-Jaoko told VOA her organization has no interest in implicating anyone in Kenya’s post-election violence that led to the deaths of at least 1,300 people.

“All we did was to receive information, analyze such information in regards all the things that happened. So, we received information from individuals, as well as (looking) at various sources. So, we don’t even have the capacity to bribe.”

At a news conference, Ruto, suspended last month for alleged corruption, accused an official of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights of coaching and paying witnesses to link him to the election violence.

Local media quoted Ruto as accusing Hassan Omar, then the vice president of the KNCHR, of being behind what he said was the scheme to implicate him as one of the masterminds of the post-election violence.

“Has Mr. Hassan Omar been paying those so-called witnesses money? Did he promise them that they will live in foreign capitals? Let him tell Kenyans how much money he has been paying them and what is the source of the money,” asked Ruto.

William Ruto, Kenya's suspended Higher Education Minister

William Ruto, Kenya's suspended Higher Education Minister

The minister also accused the rights official of working closely with his “political enemies” to undermine his hard-won reputation.

But, Simbiri-Jaoko said her organization was unbiased in collecting both victims and their accounts of the post-election violence.

“We have no information or evidence of any commissioner or any staff member bribing any witness or coaching any witness. So, obviously, if Mr. Ruto has any information to the contrary which we, as a commission, have, then it is his responsibility to table that information. But, we have no such information,” Simbiri-Jaoko said.

Ruto recently returned to Kenya from The Hague, where he gave his account of Kenya's 2008 post-election violence to the International Criminal Court. Two Kenyan investigative panels have accused Ruto of helping to orchestrate the violence.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi Monday, Ruto said he met with ICC investigators to, in his words, "set the record straight." He said the two reports on the violence contain "falsehoods" and that he was never given a chance to give his side of the story.

Kenya exploded in violence after the disputed presidential election of December 2007, in which incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over challenger Raila Odinga.

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