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Vol 50 No 16

Published 7th August 2009


Kenya

The hard road to truth, justice and reconciliation

President Mwai Kibaki's 23 July appointment of Bethuel Kiplagat to chair Kenya's newly created Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission is problematic. Some suspect the government will use the TJRC to exonerate any senior politician convicted of election violence and Kiplagat, a senior aide to President Daniel arap Moi, lacks support and credibility, as do some other TJRC members. Furthermore, the TJRC's remit stretches back to 1963. Far from resolving postcolonial crises, this may prove yet another lengthy, expensive inquiry whose conclusions are seen as just another cover-up.

Many regard the question of Bethuel Kiplagat's independence as fundamental. He was a leading coordinator of Daniel arap Moi's survival strategy (AC Vol 31 No 24) and critics argue that he defended the regime's excesses. Kiplagat's fiercest opponents include former political detainees Koigi wa Wamwere, Wanyiri Kihoro, Paddy Onyango and Njeru Kathangu. Wamwere, a former Nakuru member of parliament and ex-detainee who fled with his family to Norway to escape the Moi regime and had also suffered under President Jomo Kenyatta's rule, said he would not bother to testify if Kiplagat retained the chair. The Release Political Prisoners Trust Fund, human rights lawyer Harun Ndubi and many others have joined the protests.

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