July 22, 2009 / 5:44 PM / 10 years ago

Kenya's Odinga says cabinet united on violence court

* No splits in cabinet over court issue, Odinga says

* Market players eye debate

By Wangui Kanina

NAIROBI, July 22 (Reuters) - Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told lawmakers on Wednesday there were no splits in the coalition government's cabinet about how to deal with perpetrators of last year's post-poll violence.

How to deal with the masterminds of the bloodshed has worried markets, donors and Kenyans alike. The cabinet has twice postponed a decision on whether to try suspects locally or at the Hague-based International Criminal Court. [ID:nLK182946]

"There is no stalemate in the cabinet on the issue of post-election violence. There were no disagreements. It is a matter of extensive and intensive consultations, and I am sure the cabinet will reach an agreement," he said.

Locals and Western governments are pushing the authorities to punish the suspects of the worst bloodshed in the east Africa nation's post-independence history that killed at least 1,300 people and displaced 300,000.

Crisis mediator Kofi Annan handed over an envelope with the names of 10 suspects to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo this month, increasing the pressure on the shaky coalition.

Analysts and some legislators say the delay was a sign that cracks in the cabinet were deepening and that matters are further complicated since some ministers are probably suspects.

In a stormy session in parliament, some legislators accused the cabinet of playing political games.

"If the prime minister and the president have been unable to rally members of their cabinet on this very crucial issue ... (why) not fire the entire cabinet so that we can have a cabinet that will serve Kenyans," parliamentarian Bonny Khalwale said to loud applause.

But Odinga said the cabinet did not want to bring a bill to lawmakers that would be rejected. A previous bill to set up a local tribunal was thrown out of parliament last year.

"To come back to the house with the bill the same way it was when it was rejected would be an effort in futility," he said.

A team led by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo is expected to refine the proposals and present them to cabinet on Monday.

Market players say they are watching the debate closely since Kenya's shilling KES= and stocks .NSE2O .NASI are susceptible to any indication of political instability.

President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga are trying to push the local option, but there is resistance from some politicians. "Out there it is thought that parliament only wants one option, The Hague, The Hague, The Hague," Odinga said to laughter.

A survey by local pollster Steadman said that 68 percent of Kenyans wanted violence perpetrators tried at the ICC, and only 14 percent opted for the local option. [ID:nLI445650]

The government's human rights body last week named 219 people, including seven sitting ministers, it said were involved in planning, financing and inciting the violence.

Odinga said that it was unethical for the body to release names, because it gave the impression that they were guilty.

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