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Former UN chief promises action on poll probe report
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13:29, October 19, 2008

Former UN chief promises action on poll probe report
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Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan (1st R), head of an African Union-backed mediation team for Kenya's political crisis after the disputed general elections late last year, receives a report from Justice Philip Waki (2nd L), chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, at a hotel in Kenyan capital Nairobi Oct. 17, 2008. The report recommends that those behind the riots, which left at least 1,000 people dead and 350,000 others displaced, face a special international tribunal set to be named within 60 days. (Xinhua/Tom Nyamoki)

By Daniel Ooko

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has put the perpetrators of the election violence which was sparked by the disputed presidential election on notice, warning those named in the report to be prepared to face consequences.

Speaking when he received the report by the Commission of Inquiry Into Post Election Violence late Friday, Annan said he had already perused the findings and recommendations in the 500-page report which he described as "formidable and comprehensive".

The former UN chief also received a secret envelope containing the names of top politicians, government officials and influential businessmen implicated in organizing the mayhem following disputed polls in 2007.

"I know there will be temptations to speculate about who is on the list and who is not. It is not going to get you anywhere. So try and avoid that kind of speculation until the prosecutor or the judge opens it and does his or her work," he said.

"I think this is the beginning of a new Kenya where the message must go out that impunity will no longer be allowed to stand and people who get into these activities; who commit criminal activities and commit gross and systematic abuse of human rights, will be held into account," he warned.

Prominent politicians and businessmen named in the secret Waki list could be detained once they are charged by the proposed special tribunal. They will only get out of custody if they are acquitted by the tribunal.

Lawyers said setting up the tribunal would require an amendment to the Constitution, which calls for 145 MPs from the current 222.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chairman Okong'o Omogeni said the decision by the Waki Commission to set up a special court to try the suspects was a serious indictment to the Kenyan Judiciary.

Similar views were expressed by lawyers Haroun Ndubi, Donald Kipkorir and Paul Muite. However, former LSK chairman Ahmednassir Abdullahi saw it as an indictment to the attorney-general's office.

Annan said he was confident that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga would implement the Waki report. He is expected to meet Kibaki and Odinga to discuss implementation of the Waki Report.

Annan said the suggested formation of a special tribunal to try suspects will herald a democratic era for Kenya. Though he did note laborate, Annan asked Kenyans to demand enforcement of the Waki Report recommendations.

Annan also said the UN, the African Union and Group of Eminent Persons who mid-wifed the National Accord that necessitated the inquiry into post-election violence will sustain pressure to ensure its implementation.

"And you the people of Kenya who are potentially also victims would want to support and press for the implementation of the recommendations," he said. "The implementation of these recommendations depends on you Kenyans." Annan added he does not expect local resistance to the formation of a tribunal to try suspects.

The former UN chief also said the international community expects the tribunal to be formed to end the culture of impunity and ... gross violation of human rights and foster a new age of democracy, accountability and the rule of law.

"This (report and recommendations) is the beginning of a new Kenya where a message goes around that impunity will no longer be tolerated and those who commit gross human rights violations will be brought to account."

Justice Waki who chaired the inquiry into post-election violence gave a list of suspects that he said would be given to the proposed tribunal's prosecutor.

He said the report formed part of the agreement signed by the National Dialogue and Reconciliation team which drew membership from both coalition members and representatives of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities.

Justice Waki on his part said his commission had done its best in investigating, analyzing and preparing a detailed report containing findings and recommendations that will form the basis of instituting reforms in the country.

"We did our best and we have now handed over the report for appropriate action. I thank my fellow commissioners and staff who dedicated themselves to coming up with this report," he said, marking the end of the commission's mandate.

The first step towards implementation of the report was seen on Friday when the Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali announced the formation of a Special Task Force composed of senior female Police officers to investigate all cases of violence against women and particularly those that occurred during the post-election violence.

A dispatch from police headquarters urged rape survivors to report all cases to a special team of senior police officers appointed to investigate the crime.

"The Commissioner of Police is personally urging all women in the affected areas with any complaint to come forward and report to the Task Force. The itinerary of the Task Force showing dates and venues will be advertised on radio and in the newspapers," the statement by Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said.

Within the context of the police reforms, it stated, plans are already underway to enlarge the Gender Offices that will be manned by female Police Officers at all police stations to enable victims to report all gender-related crimes with the guaranteed confidentiality and the sensitivity that such cases deserve.

Source: Xinhua

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