Thursday, November 13, 2008

Panic sets in as The Hague announces that it is ready to act on Waki Report

The International Criminal Court has warned that if Kenya does not move fast to act on the Waki report, then it will take over the cases of the names contained in a secret envelope handed to Kofi Annan.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said if Kenya failed to try the suspects of post-election violence, then the court will move in to start investigations and prosecute those involved. He said Kenya had no option but to form a tribunal to investigate and prosecute suspects in the Waki secret envelope handed over to Mr Annan, the former UN secretary-general who was chief mediator in the talks that led to the coalition government. Mr Moreno-Ocampo told nominated MP Musa Sirma during a meeting of Parliamentarians for Global Action in the Dominican Republic last week that the ICC was watching what the Government will do.

Mr Sirma divulged the candid and yet stern message to powerful individuals in Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement as well as President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity, which threw them into a panic kicking off a flurry of consultations. The panic has led to a change of mind and even strategies on how to implement the Waki report that gives strict timelines. If the Government starts the implementation process from today during a scheduled Cabinet meeting to be chaired by President Kibaki, it has up to February 28 to enact the laws and form a local tribunal. However, if it fails to start the process, the envelope will automatically be handed over to the ICC on March 1 — the end of the 135-day timetable contained in the Waki report. The 60-day deadline began on October 17 when the Waki report was given to former UN chief Kofi Annan. A Statute for the Special Tribunal will then be enacted into law and come into force within 45 days after the signing of the agreement.

The tribunal will start its work within 30 days after the presidential assent to the Bill enacting the statute.

If either an agreement for the establishment of the tribunal is not signed, or the statute fails to be enacted, or the tribunal fails to start work, or its functions are subverted after starting, the list of suspects behind the chaos will be forwarded to the International Criminal Court.

To avoid bottlenecks, the Bill establishing the tribunal will be insulated against objections on constitutionality and anchored in the Constitution. Already, PNU and ODM MPs have backtracked on their earlier hard-line stance against the report. ODM argued it was “full of incurable errors”. Although ODM Parliamentary Group and PNU MPs had dismissed the report, they have changed their minds. However, some ODM MPs who are incensed by the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee to overrule the MPs, plan to hold another Parliamentary Group meeting this week to reaffirm their earlier decision.

The ICC prosecutor in the Dominican Republic was responding to a question by Mr Sirma during the meeting on whether he had received the secret Waki list and what he was going to do about it. The meeting had been convened to check the status of the ICC ratification by the member countries.

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