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Tutu asks Kenya TJRC boss to quit

2010-02-25 22:14

Nairobi - Desmond Tutu and other eminent peacemakers called on Thursday on the head of Kenya's Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to resign over allegations of bias and misconduct.

The call for Bethuel Kiplagat to stand down came in a joint statement by former chairs and truth commissioners from around the world, including South African Nobel Peace laureate Tutu.

"We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of bias and misconduct that have been made against chairperson Kiplagat," the statement said, urging him to step down.

Kiplagat's role in government under former president Daniel arap Moi has "generated a widely held perception that he labours under an unavoidable conflict of interest and that he is unable to bring an impartial mind to bear on his important duties", the group said.

Corruption

Kiplagat was appointed chair of the TJRC in 2008 as an integral part of the dialogue sponsored by former UN chief Kofi Annan to solve the deadly post-electoral crisis that broke out following the disputed 2007 polls.

According to the deal, the TJRC must, among other things, "inquire into major economic crimes, in particular grand corruption, historical land injustices, and the illegal or irregular acquisition of land".

Earlier this month, the Kenya Human Rights Commission also urged Kiplagat to resign, accusing him of being responsible for some of those very injustices and therefore being unable to carry out his mandate.

The latest letter calling for his resignation was circulated by the new York-based International Centre for Transitional Justice.

"If the TJRC is to be effective, it has to be free of any taint of real or perceived bias and impropriety," said Suliman Baldo, Director of ICTJ's Africa Programme.

Other signatories of the document include Bishop Joseph Christian Humper, who chaired Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Salomon Lerner Febres, the head of Peru's TRC.

SAPA