KENYA’S Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for his supporters arrested during this year’s political violence to be freed, to help reconciliation.
Odinga was named prime minister as part of a power-sharing deal to end violence in which some 1,500 people were killed, many in ethnic clashes.
But allies of President Mwai Kibaki have rejected the call, saying it would lead to a ‘culture of impunity’.
A BBC correspondent says the dispute could threaten the fledgling coalition.
Hundreds of people on both sides of Kenya’s political and ethnic divide were arrested during the violence, in which some 600 000 people were forced from their homes.
Some of the worst violence was in the Rift Valley, where ethnic Kalenjins and others drove out members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu community.
Kikuyus later carried out revenge attacks. It is reported that Rift Valley MPs from Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) wanted him to do more to secure the release of their supporters.
“We cannot have a coalition government when our young people are still being held,” Odinga said.
He said he had discussed the issue with President Kibaki.
Law professor Githu Muigai agreed with Justice Minister Martha Karua that any amnesty would only encourage impunity.
“People feel you can do anything you want, you can get away with anything you want, as long as the day before you are brought before court, you can get whatever partisan group you belong to to drum up some political intervention,” he told the BBC.
Some of Kibaki’s allies also say that if the Kalenjin youths are freed, the same should apply to members of the Kikuyu Mungiki sect, arrested during the violence and in subsequent police crackdowns. – BBC Online