Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who are the others?

Until yesterday's press conference in defense of Ambassador Francis Muthaura, the Head of the Civil Service, I had never heard Silas Muriuki (PNU, Igembe North) speaking in public. What he had to say epitomises the head-in-the-sand approach to politics that holdovers from the Moi and Kenyatta Eras have perfected. In his mind, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, has been influenced by political motives in naming Amb. Muthaura as one of the six persons he wishes to try at the Hague for crimes committed during the PEV. In contrast to Amb. Muthaura's calm and measured response, Hon. Muriuki is of the opinion that the tribe supersedes national and international law. In this view, he has the support of the likes of Isaac Ruto (ODM, Chepalungu) and Gideon Konchellah (PNU, Kilgoris), both beneficiaries of the system that had been perpetuated by President Moi for nigh on 24 years. They would wish to see Kenya abrogate the provisions of the Constitution regarding international law and it place in the laws of Kenya.

It is easy for Kenyans to point and sneer a the Ocampo Six without considering the bellwether that this event was. In our history, no one has ever been called to account for his sins of omission or commission if they happened to be senior politicians or civil servants. When Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki, Pio Gama Pinto and Robert Ouko were assassinated, the State went through the motions of investigations, commissions of enquiry and trials, but the truth surrounding the assassinations has never come out. Even when Parliament recently investigated the Ouko Murder, no one was held accountable and the results of the Troon Investigation still remain a mystery to the millions of Kenyans interested in its findings. With the naming of his six suspects, Senor Moreno-Ocampo has re-written the rules of engagement for the Kenyan VIP. We should not allow this opportunity to pass us by.

It is time that we engage in an exercise of naming-and-shaming. We want to know the names behind the FPE Scam, Anglo-Leasing, Goldenberg, the Maize Scam, the Grand Regency Sale, and the names of those suspected to be traffickers in narcotics and other illicit drugs. We want to know the names of the persons behind the contracts awarded to multinational firms engaged in prospecting for oil and other minerals in this fair land o ours. We want to know the terms and conditions that have been imposed on the Government of Kenya in its dealings with international financial lenders and other governments. We want to know who are in charge of the programme of extraditing innocent Kenyans to hostile countries on suspicion of having committed international crimes. We want to know who was in charge of authorising the rendition of suspected terrorism suspects to Guantanamo Bay at the behest of Michael Ranneberger's Government. It is not enough anymore for the President or the Prime Minister or their Cabinet to issue statements that all is being done to right the wrongs that have been committed. Moreno-Ocampo has shown us that for there to be true healing, all the details of the events must be made public and all the actors in the transaction arraigned before a court of law and tried.

It may be too early to tell, but the calm that surrounded the revelations by the ICC Prosecutor are a harbinger for the calm that we will enjoy when the six are eventually tried for their alleged part in the chaos of 2007/08. This is but a small step in the right direction. The government has expressed a desire to re-start the process of establishing a local tribunal. This is a commendable proposal. But until the Judiciary is reformed, a new attorney-General, Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions appointed, the local tribunal will not enjoy the confidence of the Kenyan public. Hon. Amos Wako has done all that he could do to ensure that establishment figures in Moi's and Kibaki's governments do not see the four walls of a court room for their crimes. The Constitution has shifted the balance of power away from the A-G to the DPP, and whoever is appointed the DPP must take the bull by the horns and act impartially and independently.

Ahmednassir Abdulahi, speaking at a CLE event earlier this month, expressed cynicism at the choice of the President and PM of the next DPP. In his mind, they will nominate a person who will act as a loyal gatekeeper, anxious to maintain the status quo and not upset the apple cart by going after all and sundry. He argues that the two principals have not demonstrated a desire to democratise the country; instead, they have always, but always, desired to be overlords of all that they see and command. The expansion of political rights that has been witnessed in this country since 2003 should not be squandered at the altar of a peaceful transition to democratic politics in 2012. It is in our best interests if we held their feet to the fire and demanded that they nominate a DPP who will not be afraid to go after the Big Fish (minus the PLO-like theatrics) regardless of the political fallout that may ensue. The likes of Silas Muriuki cannot keep holding the nation ransom over the perceived slight to their fellow tribesmen. That era is over. It is time we started to see ourselves as Kenyans and that all problems affect all Kenyans equally. Only then can we begin the journey to a rule-of-law based Constitutionalism.

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