According to the Commission on the Investigation of the Post Election Violence (CIPEV), the chaos that rocked the country soon after the 2007 general election is the most unique in Kenya’s history.
In the report that was released by the Commission several years back the 2007/08 post election violence (PEV) cannot be compared to any of the violence that had happened in Kenya since multiparty politics was restored in 1991.
“The violence that shook Kenya after the 2007 general elections was unprecedented. It was by far the
most deadly and the most destructive violence ever experienced in Kenya,” the report reads in its introduction.
The CIPEV commission is mainly referred to as the Wako Commission after the name of Judge Philip Waki who chaired it. It will be noted that the cases of six Kenyans believed to have been the main suspects of the violence and that were later to be pursued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) were partly a referral of the Commission.
This is after it handed a sealed envelope of the list of suspects to the then ICC prosecutor Loius Moreno Ocampo and after attempts to form a local tribunal to pursue the cases in Kenya bore no fruits.
In a big way the Commission’s findings read like the findings of a Working Group that was formed recently and which did a Socio-Political audit of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 as both appreciate the recurrence of election related violence since the days of KANU (Kenya Africa National Union).
“Unlike previous cycles of election related violence, much of it followed, rather than preceded elections,” it says.
“The 2007-2008 post-election violence was also more widespread than in the past. It affected all but two provinces and was felt in both urban and rural parts of the country. Previously violence around election periods concentrated in a smaller number of districts mainly in Rift Valley, Western, and Coast Provinces,” it says.
Out of the six PEV cases that the ICC was pursuing only two are ongoing, that of Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang, and even so, their case is also nearing conclusion.
And while the CIPEV information may not be new as the report was released several years back, re-reading the report afresh at this time might be important to all those who want to reflect on the journey that Kenya has traveled in seeking for reforms in our electoral and governance process. That is, as the ICC cases are being concluded.
It will also be noted that during the making of the new constitution the clause on leeway of seeking international tribunals on matters that are as grave as the 2007 violence was partly informed by what Kenyans had gone through. That is, the commission of grave crimes under regimes that were unwilling or unable to prosecute those highly responsible.
Subsection 6 of Article 2 of the Constitution states that
“any treaty or convention ratified by Kenya shall form part of the law of Kenya under this Constitution.”
It is partly because of this section that the ICC had an entry point to the PEV cases.