Kenyan cabinet meets amid rift over election violence amnesty

May 23rd, 2008 - 1:10 am ICT by admin  

Nairobi, May 22 (DPA) Kenya’s coalition cabinet met Thursday amid a rift over calls for an amnesty for those involved in post-election violence that saw over 1,000 people killed. A deal brokered by former UN chief Kofi Annan saw a power-sharing government sworn in this April after disputed election results led to months of brutal violence.

However, a dispute has broken out between Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) over what should be done with those being held for their part in the violence.

Odinga, whose supporters took to the streets after he said the elections had been stolen from him, wants to see them pardoned.Kibaki’s party says the fate of those arrested should be left up to the courts.

“The people we are talking about here are the boys who came out to demonstrate against the disputed elections,” the Daily Nation quoted Agriculture Minister William Ruto as saying.

“The ODM called for protests and the PNU ordered police to shoot at the youths to quell the protests. The police are as guilty as anyone,” he added.

Much of the mayhem and murder, including the burning of a church in which 35 died in the town of Eldoret, took place outside the capital city.

Hundreds of thousands fled their homes as members of rival tribes affiliated to the parties clashed. Many of them are afraid to return home for fear of further attacks.

Justice Minister Martha Karua believes that letting those responsible for killing go unpunished will lead to a culture of impunity.

“This is a matter that decides whether our country is under the rule of law or the rule of the jungle,” she said.

Some analysts believe that the cabinet’s massive size - which comprises 40 ministers and 52 assistant ministers - and inter-party squabbles over issues such as the amnesty will ultimately threaten its longevity.

However, Information Minister Samuel Poghisio played down the amnesty issue, saying that it was not a bone of contention during the Annan-brokered talks.

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