To me, the government-sponsored raid on the Standard newspaper in the spring of 2006 was a signal event in current Kenyan politics. Clearly anti-democratic and without excuse. Condemned strongly by the U.S. Ambassador at the time, Mark Bellamy and the other Western envoys in Nairobi. And yet almost boasted of by figures in government, with impunity.
This was part of the background I found upon arriving in Nairobi just over a year later. It was an elephant in the room when the Kibaki administration proposed a draconian law to restrict press freedom in mid-2007 in the lead up to the elections in December, and it was lurking when the government restricted coverage of the announcement of the presidential election outcome by the ECK on December 30 and then banned lived broadcasting thereafter.
Wednesday, the Kenyan parliament adopted a report calling for action on the matter, in particular finding that two key insiders, now-Enviroment Minister John Michuki, and Stanley Murage, a key figure in the Kibaki inner circle and senior presidential aide at the time, should be prosecuted.
By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU, firstname.lastname@example.org
Parliament has adopted the report on the Artur brothers without amendments and placed the onus for its implementation on the Executive.
Apart from the lone ‘No’ from Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, the only Cabinet minister who was in the House when the report was put to a verbal vote, all other MPs including assistant ministers excitedly voted for the report’s adoption.
Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central, CCU), who re-introduced the report in the House, moved debate and rallied MPs to adopt it criticised the Justice Minister saying “he obviously lived in another era” and not that of the new Constitution.
Mr Kilonzo had called for Parliament to stay the adoption of the report saying it “raises more questions than answers” and that it was a “comedy of errors”.
The report adversely mentions Mr John Michuki (former Internal Security minister and current Environment minister) for his role in shielding the Armenian brothers and even giving them a lead role in the raid of the Standard Group offices, printing press and KTN studios.
The Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, former special advisor to the President Mr Stanley Murage, former CID director Joseph Kamau, Ms Mary Wambui and her daughter Winnie Wangui, together with Mr Raju Sanghani and Kamlesh Pattni are all indicted as per the evidence adduced before the parliamentary inquest.
The report is explicit that Mr Michuki and Mr Murage “should not hold public office” and that they should be prosecuted for their role in the Standard Group raid and for condoning illegal activities of the Armenians.
The implementation of the report will be monitored by Parliament’s Implementation Committee, which as per its operation mode means the report has to be implemented within 60 days, failure to which sanctions are placed on the Executive, unless an extension is sought.