NAIROBI, October 8 – A Cabinet sub-committee has finalised scrutiny of the Kriegler report and has forwarded it for debate by the full Cabinet, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula has said.,
Mr Wetangula told Capital News that the sub-committee ratified the recommendations of the report at a meeting on Tuesday morning.
“We have looked at the report and given it a stamp of approval and we are forwarding it to the main Cabinet which will start the process of implementation,” he said.
The Minister said that the government was committed to implementation of the report as a way of sealing the loopholes that may have contributed to the post election violence.
“We are going to implement the recommendations as far as practically possible,” he said, pointing out that the report had recommended reforms not only at the Electoral Commission but also political parties, politicians, individual players and the press among others. “We are all in need of reforms; we want institutional changes that will make it difficult for us to run into the difficulties that we ran into in December 2007 and January this year.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister said it was unhelpful to call for the disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) unless it is backed by institutional reforms that would make it more efficient and trustworthy.
“You can take away ECK but if you leave the process of appointing the commissioners the same, if you leave the law under which they are established the same you will not have done anything! We must have institutional reforms that get us to have a leaner, more efficient, responsive and a user-friendly electoral commission whose word and pronouncements on any electoral process will be respected,” emphasised Mr Wetangula.
His comments were triggered by German Ambassador Walter Lindner who said the international community in Kenya was not in a standoff with the government over whether the 22 commissioners should be sacked.
Mr Lindner explained that the concern of the international community was only echoing the government stand on setting up institutional changes in the problematic structures which the Kriegler report recommended for reforms.
“We want a speedy implementation of the Kriegler report which includes a speedy reform of the flawed ECK but the implementation will be decided by the government. We as foreign nations will introduce our opinions behind closed doors, no ‘megaphone diplomacy’ as it is not the way to speed up the required reforms,” he said.
He also denied reports that European states had offered the commissioners a gratuity package as an inducement to leave the electoral commission.
At the same time, Mr Wetangula said the electoral reforms will be done concurrently with the constitution review process.
He said the Grand Coalition Government is not divided on the review process, as it is necessary to fix some the constitutional structures that Kenyans have through the years cited as problematic in governing the country.
They were speaking while opening a week-long cultural festival where the Foreign Affairs Minister and his National Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama both urged Kenyans to shun negative ethnicity and instead celebrate the ethnic diversity of the country.
“There is no community that is in Kenya by invitation. We are here all here by right. We all must create space for each other,” he said.