Big names are about to drop.
By now we all know that a pretty decent number of names are sealed in an envelop that Judge Waki submitted to the Hon. Kofi Anan. That the names are there is neither an indication of guilt nor a witch-hunt. What the judge is saying is that in the course of his hurried and time-pressed investigation, he reached the conclusion that there are some Kenyans who need to be further investigated because their names came up in relation to the funding and abetting of the post-election fracas. It is only fair that they be given a chance to defend themselves...and be cleared or convicted and punished for causing such a serious loss of life and property.
As one who has strongly called for a local tribunal, to preserve and strengthen our sovereignty and our nascent institutions, I'm gratified that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga have found a formula to give our judicial system a stab at resolving this matter. I hope we all realize that the credibility of our nation is on the line here. Whoever is selected to lead this tribunal will need the full support and the goodwill of all Kenyans. We will follow closely how he/she leads the tribunal and decide whether the body will do Kenya proud or will embarrass us and set us on the demeaning path to the Hague.
Given the gravity of the charges the people who's names will drop face, it is time to agree on the way forward. This is important if we are to avoid unnecessary acrimony within our perpetually fractious parties and the nation in general.
This is what must be done:
1. Immediate and unconditional Resignation. This is the honorable thing to do. The ladies and gentlemen mentioned need to pave the way for effective and thorough investigations to take place. To achieve this, they must resign as a matter of principle. Their voluntary resignation will make their absence in Government palatable to their rowdy followers and avoid the impression of persecution of any group of people.
2. The Process Must be seen To Be Free And Fair. Kenyans will be watching very closely how this tribunal is handled. As sad as this is to say, there are thousands of Kenyans who lost their relatives and property and are still trapped in the unending cruelty of the IDP camps. Equally disturbing, there are Kenyans in refugee camps in Uganda who are too traumatized to even contemplate a return to Kenya. This is sad and unacceptable. To such people, this nation owes a credible tribunal, one that will fairly convict the culprits and fairly dispense justice. We must be sensitive to the fact that should this thing be perceived to be bungled, we'll have created an opportunity for our unscrupulous politicians to present themselves as martyrs to their gullible followers, who will seek vengeance and create a situation where animosity and grievance is recycled without end.
3. Outstanding Grievances Must Be Simultaneously Dealt With. I sense an inexplicable foot-dragging when it comes to matters related to land and the constitution. One year after the electoral fiasco how can we explain this slowness? Are we waiting to start handling these matters in the run up to the 2012 elections? We have to realize that by then Kenya will be too charged up for anything to be done effectively. So at this time, when we are in the mood for dealing with our problems head on, let's ruthlessly deal with the issues of land distribution and the unbalanced constitution. Waiting is an option we don't have.
4. The Hague Must Be Our Last Resort. Fellow Kenyans, going to the Hague will be one of the most humiliating things to happen to Kenya in recent memory. It will be a tacit admission of failure on our part, a statement to the world that we are incapable of handling our affairs. Even so, we must agree that if our local tribunal is seen to be failing, the ICC will have to step in. In the end, what we are saying as a nation is that we will no longer tolerate impunity.
5. Reconciliation Must Follow Punishment. Like most trials, the verdict of the tribunal...or God forbid, the ICC...will inevitably create animosity in the country. President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga will have to move swiftly, literally hours after the verdict, to unify the nation. They will need to lead the nation to bury the past and see in the verdict a necessary cleansing, an atonement for the sins of the nation.
My fear, Fellow Countrymen, is that if we carelessly handle this tribunal, a perception that certain communities were targeted will emerge. That would be regrettable. Indeed, it would be better if we neither formed the tribunal nor went to the ICC if all we end up accomplishing is setting the stage for future animosities...that will lead to fresh antagonisms.
I pray for Kenya!
Has Obama not stopped smoking?
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