Kenya has named a judge to help gather evidence for an international probe into deadly clashes after its 2007 election, but analysts say there is still a long way to go before top politicians face trial in The Hague.
The International Criminal Court's (ICC) prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has vowed to issue arrest warrants for up to six people by the end of this year for organising and financing attacks on civilians after the disputed polls.
Kenya's Attorney General Amos Wako told Reuters that a judge, Justice Kalpana Rawal, had been appointed to help government officials record statements for the ICC investigation.
Local media say three cabinet ministers have been asked to give evidence.
The prospect of ICC trials has struck fear into Kenya's political elite, but a majority of Kenyans back the trials in The Hague, according to a poll last month.
Analysts say convictions could do much to deter a repeat of violence at the next presidential elections due in 2012, although there are also fears that arrest warrants for senior officials could trigger unrest among their communities.
So far the ICC probe has been dogged by delays and legal technicalities. The government has also delayed giving ICC investigators minutes from meetings held by security chiefs which are said to be key for one of Moreno-Ocampo's cases.
"The mere fact that a judge has been appointed does not mean the government is hastening this process.
It is naive for anyone to believe the government is going to cooperate with the probe," said former legislator and prominent lawyer Paul Muite.
"It is a very complicated situation, we have a section of the government supporting Ocampo and the other opposing his work. There is no collective government position on the matter."
About 1,300 people were killed and more than 300,000 displaced by the violence in late 2007 and early 2008 when opposition candidate Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the election.
A powersharing deal brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in late February 2008 stopped the bloodshed and created Kenya's first coalition government, with Kibaki as president and Odinga in the post of prime minister.
But the violence had by then brought east Africa's largest economy almost to its knees and shattered its image as a stable centre for trade and tourism.
The clashes flared after Odinga supporters from the Kalenjin tribe attacked Kikuyus backing Kibaki in areas where the two were neighbours. Reprisal assaults on Kalenjin followed.
The state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has named several senior cabinet ministers as architects of the violence including Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, and Higher Education Minister William Ruto, a Kalenjin.
An attempt by Kenyatta to remove his name from the Commission's report was blocked by the High Court. Ruto, who has now fallen out with Odinga, is still fighting in court to have his name expunged.
The probe has also driven deep rifts between senior political leaders from Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement and Kibaki's Party of National Unity, with the latter criticising the investigators for focusing on the Kikuyu community.
"There is a lot of push and pull in the government over the investigations. It appears the government wants to buy time and this indecision or ill will points to attempts of a cover-up," said Okech Kendo, a columnist at The Standard newspaper.
"There are individuals in government who are fighting the investigation process, trying to frustrate Ocampo's work."
Moreno-Ocampo has said he aims to complete confirmation hearings by the end of 2011, with trials to start in 2012.