Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is the coalition bigger than Kenya?

Reading through the various reactions to the Waki Report, a few points are consistent:

1. The NSIS gave clear warnings on the impending violence, well in advance, despite who was to win the disputed election. But like everything useful in Kenya, it was ignored.

2. Most of the violence was pre-planned, and the Report alludes to two meetings in particular: one, which was a fundraising affair, was held at State House, Nairobi, and a later one held at the exclusive Nairobi Safari Club.

3. The Commission implicates top politicians, businessmen, government functionaries and the police in the violence.

4. Those who planned the violence and consequently fundraised for it in State House were in bed (and still are in bed) with Mungiki. It then follows that Mungiki is officially sanctioned from the very top.

5. The Reports alludes at the culpability of both Kibaki (by way of that star-crossed fundraising party for Mungiki in the hallowed grounds of State House, as well as neglecting to take political control immediately after the disputed election and cheating Kenyans out of the MoU he signed with LDP in 2002) as well as Raila in the ensuing outbreak violence.

Now, even before the dust has settled and we have had time to digest this “story of year” as it were, out of the fox hole jumps the factotum and repudiator extraordinaire, one Dr Alfred Ng’ang’a Mutua, to “exonerate” Kibaki from any wrongdoing. As these things usually go, that in itself is an admission of guilt. We can therefore logically conclude, and going by past Commissions of Inquiry, that this latest one is already dead in the water.

Flashback to August 2008, and we see Attorney General Amos “Smiling” Wako shouting from the rooftops that there will be no amnesty for poll violence youths. This was in response to calls from “the other side” of the coalition to offer amnesty to “innocent” youths caught up in this the most unfortunate chapter in the history of our country. “It is in the view of the Attorney General that all cases where there is evidence must be prosecuted and where no sufficient evidence can be gathered then such cases should be terminated,” Mr Wako said when he appeared before the commission. I remember Kibaki giving a rather strongly worded speech at around the same time, the gist of which was that amnesty is out of the question, and that Government “will pursue those who incited, organised, or financed the gangs that caused the mayhem so that they can also pay for their role in the violence.” Going as far as calling them “criminals”, he added: “I wish to assure Kenyans that the police will fully investigate all the crimes related to post-election violence in order to apprehend and prosecute those who committed the offences.”

You must forgive my shock then when I heard Kibaki on Kenyatta Day proclaim, “justice must be tempered with forgiveness for reconciliation to take root.” He was obviously referring to the Waki Report recommendation that key politicians and business people who were adversely named by the public as having organised and funded political violence should either be taken before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague or face a special tribunal in Kenya. What brought on his change of heart, necessitating this clamber from his high horse? “Let us prepare as a nation to consider restitution and forgiveness as complementing truth and justice in order to give our nation a fresh start. I want to call upon all Kenyans to forgive one another,” he added.

It is possible that before the Waki Commission went to work, the view from Central Kenya was that the Luo, Kalenjin and all the “others” were responsible for the post-election violence. But the Waki Commission has shown us that Mungiki fundraising meetings were being held in State House long before Election Day. It has also shown that the financiers and inciters of the violence are none other than cabinet ministers, influential businessmen and senior government officials, most or all of whom are likely to be advisors to the powers-that-be

Forgive me for being pessimistic; it could be that Kibaki has a genuine change of heart. But we know Kibaki, and that is unlikely. What is likely, however, is that he has seen the gravity of what he has got himself into. The findings of the Waki Commission seem irreversible, and Justice Waki has made it plain that should the government drag its feet on his hard work, as often is the case, he will not hesitate to forward the case to The Hague. Koffi Annan, in response to Kibaki’s amnesty call, is also not mincing his words: speaking from London, the former UN secretary-general said the masterminds of post-election violence should be taken to a tribunal “even if it would harm the Coalition Government.” Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who attended the Kenyatta Day celebrations alongside Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, said that the Waki and Kriegler reports should be implemented without breaking down the fabric that holds the nation together. I can only assume that “the fabric” is a veiled reference to politicians. Or perhaps he was referring to the coalition and the status quo?

But in his response during an interview with BBC’s Network Africa programme, Dr Annan said: “The tendency sometimes to protect the perpetrators for the sake of peace, to forgive and say let’s move on, does not help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand.” On the one side, we have Annan (supported by the German ambassador Walter Lindner) saying there should be no impunity for those who committed the crimes, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga assuring us that The Government is committed to move on this. “It is not going to be easy. We have to do this without tearing our nation apart, which nobody wants, and it will require first and foremost strong commitment by leaders to the national reform agenda,” he said. “The Government is committed to implementing both Kriegler and Waki reports in full. We have to ensure that those accountable are held accountable, and that reparation is made. Kenyans will not stop demanding justice that will end decades of impunity, where powerful cliques have been at liberty to use the country as their plaything.” (Apparently, There have been fears that full implementation of the two reports could lead to dire consequences on national unity and political stability.) On the other hand, we have Kibaki who, having realised that he and his cronies are right in the thick of the commission’s report, is now calling for full amnesty.

And where does that leave the Kenya Police? Well, we all know that they are a bunch or ill-trained, trigger-happy psychos. Anything short of a complete overhaul will be a disservice to Kenyans and will not bode well with our dear departed.

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