Kenya running out of reform time

October 8, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – Chief Mediator Kofi Annan on Wednesday evening said it was urgent that Kenya’s leaders accelerate the pace of reforms because the window of opportunity to do so before the next poll was closing fast.

Mr Annan said Kenya couldn’t afford a recurrence of violence that occurred in 2008 amid compounding issues such as the global economic downturn and job losses.

“Kenya is already at – or past – the halfway mark between the formation of the Coalition Government and the next electoral cycle. Kenya cannot afford a recurrence of the crisis and violence that engulfed it after the 2007 election. But that is a serious risk if tangible reform is not achieved,” he said.

While he recognised there was progress made he said it was important for the President and Prime Minister to listen to the voice of Kenyans, who were concerned over the pace of reforms.

Mr Annan said there was a strong voice of dissatisfaction from people that the political class in the country was not taking their leadership role as expected.

He advised politicians to consider complaints raised by Kenyans and start addressing and correcting issues in question.

“My conversations with Kenyans during the last three days have underscored that there is a crisis of confidence in Kenya’s political leadership. Only Kenya’s politicians can solve that crisis.”

Mr Annan also said he was pleased with the positive cohesion between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga and appealed to other politicians as well as the rest of the country to borrow a leaf from them.

As he appealed for the true spirit of the coalition government, he said it was of great need that leaders work with unity of purpose, demonstrate transparency and show concrete action to end impunity and fight graft.

In this respect he urged the drivers of the reform process to inform the public on the progress made and also highlight issues complicating the process.

To the rest of Kenyans, he said they too had an important role to play; appealing to them to support the process in whichever ways they could.

Post election violence perpetrators 

The Chief Mediator said punishing the perpetrators of the 2007 post election violence was not a matter of choice between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a local tribunal.

He said, “it will be a three-tier approach, The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, a Special Tribunal as recommended by the Waki Commission or another effective local mechanism this is absolutely essential — and then the International Criminal Court. 

He also clarified that it was not a choice of either the ICC or a local mechanism, “It must be both,” he clarified.

The former UN Secretary General said he was pleased that Kenyans had welcomed the involvement of the ICC, and that the government assured him it will accord the court maximum cooperation.

Mr Annan said he also advised that the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission be strengthened to protect witnesses.

But he asked the two principles to clarify that it will not include prosecution of the perpetrators.

Mr Annan who concluded his three day visit and promised to be back before the end of the year said he was leaving the country a ‘happy man’ since there was some progress and commitment to complete the reform agenda.

“I leave Kenya with the feeling that there is a new sense of urgency and seriousness around the reform programme,” he said.


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