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Kenyans Express Doubt Over Post-Election Violence Tribunal

Some Kenyans are doubtful about the effectiveness of a tribunal soon to be established to prosecute those complicit in the country's post-election violence. They say the move is a calculated attempt by some political leaders to outwit a possible indictment from the international Criminal Court for they roles they played after the December 27 election dispute. This comes after the coalition government agreed yesterday (Thursday) to establish a tribunal to judge senior politicians and businesspersons accused of organizing the bloody ethnic violence that took place after the disputed election. The violence erupted after incumbent President Kibaki and then main opposition leader Raila Odinga both claimed victory in Kenya's presidential election. From the capital Nairobi, Kenyan political analyst Michael Tiampati tells reporter Peter Clottey that Kenyans have reason to be skeptical.

"Here in Kenya the reality is that Kenyans have always been treated to melodramatic situations by their leaders. First of all there has been outright hostility towards the recommendations of the report about the post-election violence and this has kind of split the leadership right in the middle. But in a strange twist, which I believe was a kind of pressure from both local and international personalities and of course institutions, the government or parliament has decided to come up with a body to address the issues on the causes of the post-election violence," Tiampati pointed out.

He said Kenyans are doubtful because previous independent set up to investigate political leaders alleged to have been complicit in breaking the law have often failed to live up to their mandate.

"Kenyans tend to believe things actually when they do happen because our system that has something to do with our leadership is prone to so many issues, such as manipulations. So, we tend to believe things when they do actually happen," he said.

Tiampati described as unfortunate the history of bodies previously set up to probe Kenya's leaders who have been alleged to have broken the law.

"The skeptical nature of this tribunal I cannot say is unfounded because we have a history in this country where so many tribunals in their dozens have been set up, but nothing was achieved and the recommendations never get implemented. And Kenyans are afraid that this new tribunal would follow the same path and become yet another tribunal, which has been set up using taxpayers money. And the result of which does not benefit the people that it was intended to benefit," Tiampati noted.

He said there seems to be a lot of interest in the latest report, which has been presented to the former UN Secretary General about the alleged complicity of some political figures in the December 27 post-election violence.

"There is a great deal of political interest in the report arising from the mysterious envelope that is said to contain names of perpetrators of violence, which is of course in the custody of the lead mediator Kofi Annan. And this has led to a lot of speculation and one part of the system is wishing for the implementation and the other part of the system is opposed to it. And it has been like a yoyo kind of thing, moving from side to side," he said.

Tiampati said there is an overwhelming unanimous call among Kenyans for those complicit in the post-election violence to be held accountable for their actions.

"Indeed Kenyans need justice and they want to see justice served or done. But the problem is that the situation, as it were and their sentiments are informed by history. So here in Kenya we adopt a system of let's wait and see. So, in as much as we want to see justice served or happen, we cannot pull all our cards on the fact that it is going to happen. So, it is a delicate political balance," Tiampati pointed out.

The Waki Commission, which looked into the post-election bloodshed that killed over 1,300 people and drove about 300,000 from their homes issued its report last month. It recommended that about 10 people should face a special Kenyan tribunal or be sent for prosecution to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

An official statement said both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga would head a committee expected to prepare an implementation work-plan of the Waki report.

Meanwhile, the government also agreed on Thursday to implement the report of another commission of inquiry, which called for extensive reform of the electoral system to avoid a repeat of this year's chaos.