The Kenyan government is seeking options to avoid sending perpetrators of post-election violence to The Hague after it missed deadlines set by the Waki Report to create a Special Tribunal to try the suspects locally.
This came after lawmakers shot down a motion seeking to limit the period of publication of the Bill before debate from 14 days to one day late Thursday.
Parliament employed a technicality late Thursday to thwart the government's rush to beat Friday's deadline of enacting a Statute for the Special Tribunal for Kenya and its entrenchment in the Constitution.
According to the local media reports on Friday, the lawmakers said the radical decision was prompted by the constitutional crisis between Parliament and the Executive following the decision by President Mwai Kibaki to reappoint former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya to the cabinet even though he had been censured by the House.
Legislator, Gitobu Imanyara from Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) threw a spanner in the works after he stood on a Point of Order to oppose the bid by Justice Minister Martha Karua, who sought to have the Bill establishing the Special Tribunal proceed to the Second Reading, contrary to the Standing Orders.
"In order for this House to proceed to the second reading leave of the House is required, to signify this I am supported by members behind me," he said.
And faced with the risk of having ministers and suspects tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the government is now exploring options for extending the deadlines.
The Special Statute Tribunal for Kenya Bill, 2009 seeks to establish the tribunal while the Statute Bill and Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2009 is to anchor it in the Constitution.
To beat Friday's deadline, the government has no option than to speed the two Bills. The Thursday's development threw the commitment of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to meet the deadlines of setting up the Special Tribunal for Kenya into disarray.
President Kibaki did not join other MPs in debating and passing the Bills at Parliament Buildings while Odinga is out of the country attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Kibaki and Odinga had committed to the Special Tribunal when they signed an agreement to establish it on Dec. 17 last year.
They have since lobbied legislators to pass the Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill 2009 and the Constitution of Kenya ( Amendment) Bill 2009 to beat Friday's deadline of enacting the Statute for the tribunal and entrenching it in the Constitution, respectively.
Several MPs told The Standard newspaper on condition of anonymity that the move was aimed at "teaching" the President a lesson for slighting Parliament over the reappointment of Kimunya to the Cabinet.
"I have been told by some MPs that they are unhappy with Kibaki over the Kimunya issue. That is why they behaved that way," a minister told the newspaper. The MPs, who spoke after stopping debate on the two Constitution Bills, said Parliament had no confidence in Kimunya
Earlier, while delivering a ruling on Kimunya's reappointment, the speaker said the Motion of censure in which a no confidence vote was passed against Kimunya and which demands resignation of the minister, still stands.
Karua said that debate on the Bills will resume next week and hoped that former UN chief Kofi Annan who mediated the talks that established the coalition government would not punish the government for a delay.
Only Annan can now prevent ministers and lawmakers named in the Waki list from being dragged to The Hague to face charges related to post-election violence.
(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2009)