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Bribe claims over Kenya tribunal

Protest in Kibera (Dec 2007)
Some 1,500 people died in the clashes that erupted after the elections

A Kenyan MP has accused the government of blackmailing and bribing lawmakers to vote for a special tribunal to try those behind the post-poll violence.

MP Gitobu Imanyara has opposed the creation of the court, saying he has no faith in the country's justice system.

Mr Imanyara told the BBC he wants some of the alleged ringleaders to be tried in The Hague instead.

Some 1,500 people were killed and more than 300,000 others fled their homes after the election in December 2007.

The government on Tuesday delayed a parliamentary vote to marshal support for a bill to set up the tribunal.

We stand a real chance... of arresting the culture of impunity. Let it be one person or two who go to The Hague
MP Gitobu Imanyara

A commission of inquiry into the violence, led by Justice Philip Waki, recommended the establishment of the tribunal to try suspects.

The tribunal must begin hearings by 1 March 2009 otherwise a sealed list of suspects is to be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The government missed a deadline to pass the bill on 30 January, and a new parliamentary vote is expected next week.

'Indefensible conduct'

A growing number of MPs have opposed the bill, saying the Kenyan government cannot be trusted to try the ringleaders of the violence.

The camp for displaced people at Eldoret showground
Hundreds of thousands fled their homes in the post-election violence

"Parliamentarians are opposed [to the bill but] they are being threatened, they are being blackmailed with letters, but we have sufficient numbers," Mr Imanyara told the BBC's Network Africa programme

"They've been threatened, they're being offered money and it is unconscionable. The conduct of the government is indefensible really."

Mr Imanyara is the sole legislator from the Chama Cha Umma (CCU) party, which is affiliated to President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU), one of the coalition partners.

He said the establishment of a local tribunal would entrench the culture of impunity and those implicated in the violence should be tried at The Hague.

"There is no possibility that this bill as crafted can serve the purpose for which it is intended or it's purportedly intended, and this has been confirmed by the government," he said.

"This is the first time we stand a real chance, a real opportunity of arresting the culture of impunity. Let it be one person or two who go to The Hague."

Deadline

President Kibaki chaired a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to lobby for support for the government-sponsored bill, which requires support from at least 145 of the 222 MPs.

Kofi Annan, the chief mediator of the talks which led to the creation of the coalition government, received a sealed list of suspects from Justice Waki, which he will forward to the ICC if the Kenyan government fails to implement the recommendations.

Mr Annan has previously said that he is satisfied with the efforts made to set up the tribunal but correspondents say his position may change if the government fails to meet the March deadline.

In December 2008, parliament dissolved the electoral commission, following recommendations by another inquiry into the voting process during the 2007 general elections.



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