July 16, 2009 / 2:08 PM / 10 years ago

Western envoys pressure Kenya over violence court

* Kenya should establish local tribunal urgently

* ICC should be last resort



By Wangui Kanina

NAIROBI, July 16 (Reuters) - Kenya should set up a special tribunal to try those behind last year’s post-election bloodshed or let the International Criminal Court step in to restore public confidence, Western diplomats said on Thursday.

Kenya’s coalition government is under pressure from Kenyans and foreign donors alike to punish those behind the violence, which was the worst in the nation’s post-independence history, killing at least 1,300 people and displacing 300,000.

In a statement, 25 diplomatic missions said that if the government was unwilling or unable to set up a special tribunal, it should let the International Criminal Court (ICC) take over.

"A special tribunal will need ... significant international involvement, a strong witness protection system and autonomous funding provided by the Kenya government," said the statement read by Swedish Ambassador Anna Brandt.

Kenya’s cabinet led by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga is split between those who want to establish the special court through parliament, and those who want the perpetrators tried at the ICC.[ID:nLD357884]

Cabinet is expected to meet next Monday over the issue.

Kenyans are sceptical that powerful individuals would be arrested and charged due to widespread impunity among the political class, but Brandt said that it was important to recognise that the ICC could only prosecute a limited number.

A previous attempt to push a tribunal measure through parliament failed. Analysts say legislators shot it down from self-interest and others because they thought a local court would be open to manipulation by politicians.

Crisis mediator Kofi Annan handed over a sealed envelope last week containing 10 names of suspects to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, causing panic in Kenya’s political sphere. [ID:nL9523539]

"(Annan’s) decision demonstrates the determination of the international community to support accountability, justice and an end to the culture of impunity in Kenya," Brandt said.

Traders said the shilling had came under selling pressure after the news of envelope, but some dealers said the issue had now been factored in [ID:nLE316165]. Stockbrokers also feared that it would weigh down on stocks this week. [ID:nLD629933] (Editing by Jack Kimball and Jon Hemming)




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