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Kenya ready for peer review

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 22 – Kenya’s reform record will be under continental scrutiny next month when a team of African Union experts arrive for a special African Peer Review.

The review sanctioned by the African Union Heads of States will focus on democracy and political governance aspects. It is meant to asses the performance of the coalition government since its inception last year following the post election crisis.

“The exercise will have particular emphasis on the institutions and stakeholders charged with carrying out the envisaged reforms,” said Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya on Thursday while officially launching the preparatory activities for the exercise.

Panel of Eminent African personalities member Graca Machel will lead a team of experts between November 16 and 30 for the review.

The review comes barely weeks after a visit by Chief Mediator Kofi Annan, who urged the government to accelerate the pace of reforms. Dr Annan challenged the government to listen to the people and put more efforts on the expected changes.

“Because of the set up in the country and what we have gone through you cannot rush reforms because you need to carry everybody with you,” said Mr Oparanya in his defence for the perceived sluggish pace of reforms.

“We do not want a situation in the country where we go to a referendum and Kenyans reject the new constitution.”

Kenya was among the first ten nations to accede to the voluntary African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in 2003 and the third to carry out the review inn 2006. under the review countries self evaluate before evaluators from the African Union arrive for an independent review. The reports are presented at a Heads of State and Governments summit where the leaders share experiences.

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Planning Permanent Secretary Edward Sambili said the country is ready for the review as the government has made considerable progress since the post election crisis.

“Sometimes Kenya is too hard on itself such that when good things are happening we rarely see. We hope that Kenyans will give an account of the good things as much as there are challenges,” he pleaded.

However the Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Florence Jaoko blamed this attitude of Kenyans to failure by the government to effectively communicate its reforms record to the citizenry. Mrs Jaoko challenged the government to do more to highlight its commitment to the reform agenda to Kenyans.

She said more awareness on the status of the reforms would reduce desperation.

“I think they are doing some things right while some they are not meeting the targets but they need to communicate with the public,” she charged.

Political scientist Adams Oloo added that the government should use the upcoming review as a stocktaking opportunity of the reform agenda.

“There is some progress but we need some political will and accelerate the pace with reforms in the police force, judiciary and state law office,” he said.

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