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Kenya: Tribunal May Set Example for Africa

Geoffrey Nyamboga

23 January 2009


London — Kenya is inching closer to the creation of a special tribunal, which could try a host of political figures suspected of engineering the widespread violence that swept the country last year.

The move would avoid a possible trial of these prominent personalities, including sitting cabinet ministers, by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Although the ICC has not issued indictments in connection with the violence, involvement of the ICC has been suggested due to its ethnic and systematic nature.

In mid-December, Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to form a special tribunal for Kenya with the mandate to try those suspected of being behind the 2008 violence that left more than 1,300 people dead and 350,000 displaced.

Homes were burned by gangs reportedly representing opposing political forces and property worth millions of dollars was destroyed.

The surge in violence surprised many who viewed Kenya as a stable and emerging democracy. Kenya has helped broker peace deals in the Horn of Africa as well as the Great Lakes region in east Africa.

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan played a key role in negotiating an agreement between Kibaki and opposition leader Odinga that ended the violence.

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