Politicians involved in Kenya’s post-election violence: Probe

October 15th, 2008 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, Oct 15 (DPA) An independent commission probing the post-election violence that rocked Kenya at the start of the year said Wednesday that politicians were involved in organising ethnically based killings and rapes during the chaos.”One of main findings is that the post-election violence was spontaneous in some geographical areas and planned in other areas, often with the involvement of politicians and business leaders,” Justice Philip Waki, the commission’s head, said at a press conference.

“The fact that armed militia, which developed as a result of 1990s ethnic clashes, were never demobilised” and they were reactivated by political and business leaders,” he added.

Waki did not name any names, however.

More than 1,500 people died in clashes between rival tribes affiliated to political parties during the post-election violence earlier this year.

Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes.

The clashes were prompted by Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga’s accusation that President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity had rigged the elections.

Calm returned after several months and a deal negotiated by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan saw the creation of a power-sharing government, with Odinga sworn in as prime minister in April.

As part of the deal, two commissions - one led by Waki and one led by former South African judge Johann Kriegler - were set up to investigate the elections.

Kriegler’s commission, which presented its results in September, found widespread bribery, vote-buying, intimidation and ballot-stuffing and called for Kenya’s electoral body to be reformed.

Waki’s commission, which focused on the role of the political parties and security forces, said that police not only failed to contain the violence, but in some cases were guilty of perpetrating it.

“Often individual members were guilty of acts of violence and in gross violations of the human rights of citizens,” he said.

Waki handed the report over to Odinga and Kibaki, who both promised to look carefully at its findings.

“We want to assure all Kenyans that the government will study the report’s findings and recommendations very carefully,” Kibaki said. “I believe that this report provides us with an opportunity to learn from the past in order to avoid future pitfalls.”

Waki also called for a tribunal, with international participation, to be set up to try those accused of crimes relating to the post-election violence.

The issue of amnesty for people involved in the political violence has exposed cracks in the coalition, with Odinga’s party keen to have their activists pardoned.

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