Thursday, November 20, 2008

Investigate & prosecute Waki Report culprits, say Kenyan

A majority of Kenyans want those mentioned adversely in the Waki report investigated and prosecuted.

An opinion poll by Strategic Research Limited found that 55.8% of respondents supported the full implementation of the report on post-election violence. Only 17.6% opposed the report’s implementation. The remaining 26.7% took a middle ground, saying, recommendations made by the Waki Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence should be implemented cautiously to avoid another crisis that might return the country to violence as happened after the disputed presidential elections.

The pollsters interviewed 3,011 people in 22 districts.

Ceasar Handa, CEO of Strategic Research, on Wednesday said it was necessary to ask respondents to explain their positions as the report had created friction among political leaders. Among the Cabinet ministers who have opposed the implementation of the report are William Ruto and Henry Kosgey of ODM. (It would be prudent to note that Ruto and Kosgey are among those adversely named in the envelope presented to Kofi Annan - Ed.) Those who support include Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy, Musalia Mudavadi of ODM. In PNU, Cabinet ministers Martha Karua and Esther Murugi also support full implementation. Others like Higher Education minister Sally Kosgei have called for caution.

According to the survey, a majority of those supporting full implementation of the report were convinced that this would reduce impunity in the country. At least 52.9% of those calling for caution said this was the only way to maintain the fragile peace in the country. Those opposed said the recommendations were unlikely to be implemented fairly. The report recommends that key leaders who organised and funded the post-election violence, in which 1,133 people were killed and over 300,000 displaced from their homes, be tried by a local tribunal or by the International Criminal Court if Kenya fails to take action by March 1, 2009.

• 55.8% support full implementation, 17.6% oppose it
• Majority of those supporting full implementation convinced that action would reduce impunity
• 40.7% want those named to be given amnesty, but only after they confess their crimes

Justice Waki handed over to chief mediator Kofi Annan, a sealed envelope with 11 names of Cabinet ministers and MPs suspected of organising the chaos. The names in the envelope remain secret. Those calling for caution said that if the recommendations of past reports had been implemented fully, this would have hurt the parties involved. Many of those in this group said that if the 11 politicians in the envelope were eventually put on trial, fresh violence could erupt. Others said the violence came about because people were fighting for their rights. Those who opposed the report said that the suspects named in the envelope were yet to be proven guilty. Of those interviewed, 40.7% want those named to be given amnesty, but only after they confess their crimes.

President Kibaki and the Cabinet are yet to discuss the report, although the President and PM have stated it will be implemented. However, President Kibaki has said that justice should be tempered with forgiveness. Ms Murugi recently said the ministers had been given time to ventilate so that when they meet, they can discuss it soberly.

European Union ambassadors have told the Government to implement not only the Waki report but also the Kriegler Commission’s report that inquired into the conduct of the elections. If this is not done, their countries will withhold budgetary support, they said. The Government has a Budget deficit of Sh127 billion.

In the opinion poll, 51% of those interviewed said they preferred a local tribunal to try the suspects. A big number said this will help in shedding more light to the events surrounding the post-election violence. However, 47% of the respondents said a local tribunal should not be formed. By opposing this, most of them (40.9%) argued that it would end up wasting resources and achieve nothing while 24.2% believe a local tribunal would be manipulated by politicians.

If the Government fails to act on the report, 68% of Kenyans would like the suspects to be taken to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. Only 30% of those interviewed saw no need for The Hague option.

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