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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kofi Annan's Play for Justice in Kenya

Jeffrey Gettleman writes:
The envelope, please — those are the words on many Kenyans’ lips.
Ever since last year’s eruption of post-election violence, which killed more than 1,000 people and threatened to drive this once promising country off a cliff, Kenyans have been waiting to hear who masterminded the bloodshed and who will pay the price.
A Kenyan commission investigated the violence in October and came up with a list of several top suspects, widely believed to include some of the nation’s most powerful men. The names were sealed in a square brown paper envelope (incongruously wrapped with a white ribbon) and handed over to Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations who took on the role of peacemaker.
Kenyan politicians had promised Mr. Annan that they would form a special tribunal to try the suspects here, ending a longstanding culture of impunity that feeds the ethnic-political bloodshed that convulses Kenya nearly every election.
But so far, nothing. Kenya’s leaders, paralyzed by competing agendas and the prospect of prosecuting their own, have refused to set up a tribunal. So last week, Mr. Annan upped the ante. He sent the envelope with the names to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, which has now indicated that it will step in if Kenya fails to act.


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