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Annan in marathon Kenya talks

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – Chief mediator Kofi Annan on Tuesday held a flurry of meetings with diplomats, politicians and the civil society where majority expressed discontent over the slow pace of the reform agenda in the country.

Addressing the media after holding talks with Mr Annan, the business community rated the progress on reforms at 10 percent and apportioned blame on a bloated Cabinet which they said was the cause of delay in decision making in the government.

“We disagree with the government that it has achieved 90 percent of the reform agenda, we have told Mr Annan that only 10 percent of key reforms have been done,” said Kenya Private Sector Alliance Chairman Engineer Patrick Obath.

He said they told Mr Annan that Kenyans were getting impatient and asked him to tell the government to give timelines within which new institutions should be in place to accelerate the reform process.

The civil society groups also raised similar sentiments saying nothing close to 90 percent completion of the reform agenda had been achieved as argued by government on Monday.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Florence Jaoko said there was double speak from the government which she said was a key factor that was delaying the process.

She also said President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga had not taken substantive action to ensure the reform agenda was speeded up.

“We don’t agree that the government has implemented 90 percent of what it was supposed to implement, we need to see the two principles taking real leadership to show the reforms are not for foreigners but they are about us,” she said.

The Head of the European Union and Swedish Ambassador Ann Dismorr said the diplomats were pleased that Mr Annan was in the country to put more pressure on the government and the rest of the leadership.

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“There is a window of opportunity to pursue the reforms, but we believe it might close next year.  We want to see more progress on key reforms and of course when it comes to implementation, not only when it comes to procedure and aspects,” she said.

Religious leaders who were led in the talks with Mr Annan by National Council of Churches of Kenya Head Reverend Canon Peter Karanja complained that Internally Displaced Persons had not been comprehensively resettled.

Canon Karanja said although some IDPs were not physically in camps, many of them moved to live with their relatives, a factor that the government had not taken into account.

He also requested the Chief Mediator to tell the international community to heed its promise to assist Kenya in the IDPs resettlement process.

“During the Serena talks, the international community was very clear that it will support Kenya in the resettlement of IDPs in terms of resources, it has been merely talking,” he complained.

The leaders also asked him to talk to the government and the International Criminal Court to be wary of the possibility of violence occurring when the court starts investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of the post election violence.

He said security mechanisms should be considered to protect and handle violence in case it recurred.

The religious leaders admitted there was some progress in the reform agenda, but none of the issues agreed on during the mediation talks had been tackled in their entirety.

He said while there was calm in the country, it was not sustainable.

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“All indications are that the framework that created the violence is still intact, signals keep coming from the grassroots, people are still ready to fight, when there is a spur violence may erupt again,” he warned.

The African Union (AU) was the only stakeholder that praised the government’s progress on reforms.

AU Dean Ambassador George Kayonga of Rwanda said the union was satisfied that the government had done a lot on reforms.

Mr Annan also held talks with the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission and the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).

Mr Annan was briefed on the progress Kenya was making on electoral reforms, following the recent by-elections in Shinyalu and Bomachoge.

IIEC chairman Isaak Hassan said Mr Annan wanted to know what steps were being taken to ensure future elections in the country remained credible.

He said he told the former UN boss that his team had visited countries like Ghana and was also networking with other nations that had held democratic polls to learn from them.

Mr Annan had earlier met with the chairman of the Interim Boundaries Review Commission Andrew Ligale, who briefed him on the creation of new districts.  It’s understood he told him only 46 districts in Kenya are  legal.

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