12 November 2012

East Africa: Regional Traders Plan Demo Over Kenyan Compensation

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Post-election violence chaos (file photo).

Six years down the road, Rwanda and Ugandan traders are waiting for compensation for losses incurred during the 2007 Kenyan post-election violence with some promising to demonstrate if payments aren't made.

The traders say that despite several attempts to have the matter settled including petitions at the highest level with President Mwai Kibaki, there has not been any breakthrough.

In January this year, East African Business Council (EABC) officials met President Mwai Kibaki and the two parties agreed that a selected inter-ministerial committee analyses the evidence and make proposals on which claims may be settled out of court.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's Finance Minister then, undertook to follow up to expeditiously conclude the matter.

The businessmen now argue that the delays are breeding fears that there might be a repeat of the violence in March 2013, when Kenya will hold its next Presidential elections.

"There is no progress at all and the government should come out boldly enough and assure us of when payments will be made and on whether the elections will be peaceful," said Augustine Ntazinda, a Rwandan transporter along the northern corridor that stretches to Mombasa port.

"Otherwise, we shall park out trucks and resume after elections have ended."

Attempts to have payments effected saw a case filed in Nairobi High Court with civil suit no.398 of 2009 for special and general damages against the commissioner of police and the Attorney General.

Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) spokesperson, Issa Sekito said they had earlier given the Kenyan government a deadline of up to October 30 this year to either pay the full amount or a half of it - but that nothing had come forth.

"Traders are demanding over 30 million USD in compensation claims and we are already desperate," Sekitto said.

"We are going out on a peaceful demonstration on a day that we are yet to reveal, and we shall march to the Kenya High Commission to register our displeasure."

Contacted, Kenya's Minister for EAC affairs and chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers Musa Sirma said that a committee set up by the government was still assessing and analysing evidence to establish how much should be paid.

"They should be patient - government decisions are not taken in one day. All they should know is that they will be compensated," Sirma said.

Millions of dollars in goods and trucks were either burnt or stolen in one of the most violent political tones to hit East Africa in recent times.

Speaking to The New Times, Rwanda's Minister in charge of EAC, Monique Mukaruliza, said: "If the Kenyan government committee was assessing and analysing the evidence, that is good news to the traders."

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