Kenya mourns peace crusader Bethuel Kiplagat

Friday July 14 2017

The former chairperson of the Truth Justice and

The former chairperson of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DAILY NATION
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Kenya is mourning the passing of career peace campaigner Bethuel Kiplagat.

Mr Kiplagat died on Friday, aged 80, at a Nairobi hospital after long illness.

A former diplomat and Kenyan government official, Mr Kiplagat served as the chairman of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) from 2009 to November 2010. He resigned after coming under investigation for alleged past human rights abuses, particularly his role in the 1984 Wagalla Massacre.

He was reinstated as TJRC chair in 2012 despite objections from other members of the commission.

Envoy

He served as Kenya’s special envoy to the Somalia peace process from 2003 to 2005 and headed the board of the African Medical and Research Foundation from 1991 to 2003.

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Bethuel Kiplagat

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Bethuel Kiplagat after a meeting where the COMESA Committee of Elders and EAC Eminent Persons briefed the President on the situation in Burundi on September 5, 2015. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Prior to that he served in then-President Daniel arap Moi’s government for 13 years (1978-1991) as Kenya's ambassador to France, high commissioner to Britain, and permanent secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Kiplagat was linked to the massacre in which hundreds were killed in Wajir, while others were tortured during a security crackdown.

He was serving as Foreign Affairs permanent secretary in former President Daniel Moi's administration at that time.

In August 2016, Mr Kiplagat wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions to carry out fresh investigations into the matter after he was adversely named in the TJRC report.

Moi mourns

Career diplomat spent most of his life campaigning for peace and reconciliation in Kenya, East Africa and beyond.

Kenya's Council of Governors (CoG) remembered Mr Kiplagat for his peace and reconciliation campaigns.

“We are grateful for the work of Ambassador Kiplagat as a distinguished civil servant, envoy, the Somali peace process and chairman of Truth Justice Reconciliation Commission (TJRC),” CoG Chairman Josephat Nanok said in a statement.

“He was a selfless man whose actions touched many lives; with his passing on, humankind is poorer."

Bethuel Kiplagat. He spent most of his life

Bethuel Kiplagat. He spent most of his life championing peace and reconciliation in Kenya and beyond. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Retired President Daniel arap Moi, under whom Mr Kiplagat served, said he learnt of this passing with shock and disbelief.

Humility

Mzee Moi described his former permanent secretary as a patriotic Kenyan who gave the best of his abilities to the service of this nation.

He said Mr Kiplagat’s humility and love for this country saw him rise to the highest levels of the civil service and diplomacy.

The peace crusader, Mr Moi said, would be remembered for many good things he undertook for the good of Kenya and its people.

TJRC chairman Bethuel Kiplagat and his deputy

TJRC chairman Bethuel Kiplagat and his deputy Betty Murungi consult at Lamu Town Hall on February 23, 2010. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Life and times of Bethuel Kiplagat

At 80, his history is long and it is almost impossible to capture it a one page.

Here are some of the highlights of his life:

Birth and school

  • Kiplagat was born on October 28, 1936.

  • He studied physical sciences at Makerere University and sociology of religion at Sorbonne (Paris) Universities.

Career

  • 1978-1981: Kenya’s Ambassador to France.
  • 1981-1983: Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
  • 1983– 1991: Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of  Kenya.
  • 1985 –86: Facilitated peace talks in Uganda.
  • 1988-1992: Initiated and facilitated peace talks in Mozambique.
  • 1988-1992: Engaged warring parties in Ethiopia.
  • 1985: Resource person to the IGAD Peace Process for Sudan.
  • 1997: Member of Election Monitoring Committee of the National Council of Churches of Kenya
  • 2003- 2005: Kenya’s special envoy to the Somalia peace process from
  • 2009- November 2010: Chairman of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). He later resigned after coming under investigation for past human rights abuses, particularly his role in the 1984 Wagalla Massacre.
  • He also served as the Chairman of Juhudi Kilimo Company Limited and Chairman of K-Rep Bank Limited.
  • He was the founder and former executive director of Africa Peace Forum.

Memberships

  • Member of the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
  • Executive Director of the Universal Bank of Kenya.
  • Chairman Kenya Rural Enterprise Programme and Operation Save Innocent Lives.