PNU, ODM in secret talks over amnesty
Published on June 25, 2008, 12:00 am
By Standard Team
Key parties in the Coalition Government are holding secret talks over the unending amnesty debate.
PNU and ODM representatives are engaged in a series of meetings over the continued confinement of youths linked to post-election violence.
And so urgent is the matter that it has been listed as priority in the next Cabinet meeting, The Standard has learnt.
The secret discussions are focussed on whether the suspects of post-election violence should be granted a blanket amnesty and those already charged in court pardoned.
As this emerged, some politicians lobbying for the blanket amnesty told the police to account for all the missing youths.
A spotlight was focussed on the police, who are adamant that they do not know the whereabouts of some youths and gave disputed statistics of the suspects they are holding in custody.
According to our sources, both ODM and PNU want to come up with an acceptable solution based on information gathered from the ground.
The parties are agreed that the continued incarceration of the suspects was creating tension across the country.
The source said: “When all the information is gathered, analysed and the nature of crime committed by each suspect categorised, it will be forwarded to President Kibaki to either implement it in total or order that the due process of the law is followed.”
He said the two sides, with the help of a special team of officers, were collecting information on the whereabouts of the missing persons, those in custody and those who have not been able to pay fines imposed by courts.
ODM has insisted that the youths be released unconditionally while PNU, led by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua, says serious crimes against humanity must not be forgiven.
“The next Cabinet meeting will have the amnesty issue top on the agenda, and with progress this time because we do not want to stick on an issue that is causing tension across the country,” said one of the ministers who talked to The Standard on condition that he was not named.
The two sides have agreed to have the information from the ground, through police stations and CID offices.
“From there, they will be able to agree on who should be released and who should not. The issue of the missing persons is also emerging as a serious one,” the minister said.
This comes in the wake of a statement released by the police giving figures on those in their custody.
Agriculture Minister William Ruto, whose Uasin Gishu District was among the most affected regions, however, told the police they owe Kenyans an explanation over the unaccounted for youths.
Ruto said it amounted to belittling other Kenyans for the police to claim they do not have the correct figures of suspects in their custody.
On Monday, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe talked of missing youths and announced the establishment of a special team to sift through the maze of post-election crimes.
Water Minister Charity Ngilu accused some Government officials of applying selective justice. “Why is it that those who stole the election are free while the youths are languishing in custody?” she asked.
Three MPs from Western Province said some youths arrested in the region over post-election violence were still in police custody.
Ben Washiali (Mumias), David Were (Matungu), and Manyala Keya (Lurambi) said the youths should be released since they were fighting for democracy.