A lot of opinion on the all-important Waki report on post election violence has been floated over the last couple of days. I have even participated in the coming up with newspaper reports on the document’s content in the name of giving the public an easy read.
My observation, however, is that even as people continue throwing the opinions many are yet to read the report either fully or partially. I could draw numerous examples of biases that have hit the newsstands since Thursday, a day after the report was handed over to the country’s top leadership.
Therefore, I waited until I had read the entire report, word for word, to throw in a few lines on it. Today, I just give my opinion on the issue of the dealing with the suspects. In a short while I will give my opinion on the report’s findings and recommendation on the security agencies.
However, before I give my take on why we have no other option other than implement this report I pose the following; Why is it that we are so quick to dismiss the likelihood of the implementation of the report judging from history? Kenyans have tolerated the culture of impunity so why hasn’t anyone told off leaders who claim that the violence was all about the ‘stolen election’? A lot has been said about the violence in Nakuru and Naivasha but why aren’t we saying that the report says that this were reiteration attacks? And what about the violence in the rest of Rift Valley and Western Kenya?
Unlike other journalists and commentators, (including Donald Kipkorir in his piece in the Saturday Nation and Mutahi Ngunyi in today’s Sunday Nation), I think the Waki report and the famous sealed envelope are the best things since Jelimo’s jackpot win.
Following the violence rocked the country before the election (the report clearly states this) and escalated after the announcement of the presidential results we formed a commission of inquiry to look into it. We appointed commissioners led by a Kenyan who like all of us was affected by the chaos in one way or another and gave them a clear job description.
Commission’s first term of reference was to investigate the facts relating to the post-election violence. An important part of that investigation is to identify who planned, organised, facilitated, and committed egregious human rights violations.
So why are Kenyans behaving as if the country expected anything short of what the report give?
In respect to the rule of law and even the simplest of the laws of natural justice, those behind the attacks and the reiterations that followed must be brought to book. This is the only way that Kenya can deal with political impunity.
Those who are pessimistic about the report’s implementation must remember that the commission was borne out of an international agreement between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The two men remain the centre of focus as the world awaits the implementation.
It is in the respect of this international obligation of the two leaders that Justice Waki cleverly ensured that in case the local systems failed then international systems would apply.
Consequently, when the two sign an agreement authorising the setting up a tribunal in the next 60 days the stage will be set and parliament will have little choice but to pass the required laws. The truth is that the implementation touches the cream of the grand coalition government but with 2012 still in the eyes of most legislators, this is the time to score among voters.
Politically, MPs who are not likely to be affected by this report will definitely stand to be counted on this for two reasons. One, they may finally be able to join the cabinet to replace those implicated. Secondly, our MPs (like all other Kenyans) are scared that if the envelope goes to The Hague, the repercussions may be stiffer than a locally assembled tribunal.
The other major reason why the MPs will (and they must) set the ground for the implementation of the report is that majority of the public will expect them to deal with the issues that caused the violence. The Waki report repeats many issues that Kenyans have complained about over the years – negative ethnicity, inequality, corruption, the presidency, constitutional reforms, institutional reforms (security and judicial).
Kenyan leaders now have every reason and ground to deal with these pertinent issues comprehensively. Due to our ethnic inclinations, we may witness a series of reactions (physical or otherwise) with some communities feeling that they are being targeted.
But the magnitude of this will never measure to what we saw in January or what we may see after the next election if we fail to institute the necessary reforms. Moreover, the shame now associated with attacks on others due to their political or ethnic inclination will keep most away from such events.
However, we must continue pressurizing the country’s leadership and shape the public opinion to ensure that the report is implemented fully. According to the report, the president and the PM have until December 17 to ensure that an agreement on the setting up of the tribunal is in place.
Parliament is then expected to enact a Statute for the Special Tribunal come into force within 45 days (by January 30, 2009) after the signing of the agreement. It is President Kibaki in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru, Justice Minister Martha Karua and Attorney-General Amos Wako who will set the date the tribunal will start its work within 30 days (March 1, 2009) 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 subverted after starting, the list of suspects behind the chaos will be forwarded to the International Criminal Court.