Annan slams Kenya slow reform pace

March 30, 2009 12:00 am

, GENEVA, Mar 30 – Former UN chief Kofi Annan has once again slammed the coalition government over the slow pace of implementation of reforms in the country.

In his opening remarks at a high profile review meeting of the performance of the government in Geneva, Dr Annan expressed concerns that “the momentum witnessed in the immediate aftermath of signing of the peace accord had slowed down considerably.”

He said that the frustrations of Kenyans were evident in the public domain. 

“They are frustrated by Cabinet infighting and the inability to set up the tribunal to try those behind the post election violence. They are worried about impunity, security and worried by the widespread corruption and the lack of momentum to fight it,” he said.

He however was quick to note that the situation was not entirely hopeless. “The government can turn things around by acting swiftly and effectively on the agreed constitutional, electoral, judiciary, police, parliamentary and land reforms.”

The meeting organised by the Kofi Annan Foundation brings together government officials and members of the civil society.  The government delegation is led by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and includes Ministers Martha Karua, Moses Wetangula, James Orengo and Mutula Kilonzo.

Members of the civil society include Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki and Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet. President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were initially invited to the meeting but have kept away. The conference is expected to come up with a way forward in addressing the challenges of implementing the reforms.

Dr Annan negotiated the power sharing agreement between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga early last year. The agreement was pegged on far reaching reforms but the pace of implementation has been questioned by the civil society and members of the public. The President and the Premier have continuously reiterated for government’s commitment and called for patience. The National Council of Churches of Kenya two weeks ago called for fresh elections but this has generated heated debate.

Key institutions in the reform agenda include an Independent Electoral Commission, a tribunal to try perpetrators of post election violence, and a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Other reforms are a new constitution, an overhaul of the police structures, a clean up of the Judiciary, land reforms and reconciliation efforts.

Parliament rejected a proposed local tribunal and disagreed on the chair of the Electoral Commission putting into jeopardy the establishment of the two institutions. Appointment of Commissioners to the TJRC is underway while a proposed land policy has been waiting at the Cabinet level for years.

The Chief Mediator suggested that the widespread disillusionment from the citizenry could be attributed to the fact that ordinary Kenyans did not feel as part of the reforms.

“The need for greater engagement with civil society by politicians and greater efforts as sharing accurate information on the state of progress of reforms are probably some of the lessons we may end up with tomorrow,” he said.


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