, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8 – The government has welcomed the assessment by Chief Mediator Kofi Annan on the state of reforms in the country, terming it ‘fair and candid.’
Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said on Thursday that the State “welcomed the challenge by Dr Annan to accelerate reforms” and said it was ready to pick up the sluggish pace. He however maintained that arrogant pressure and criticism by some diplomats would not be entertained.
“We are encouraged that despite starting from a background of antagonism and the teething problems of the Coalition (government) we have been able to overcome a slow start, a view shared by Dr Annan,” he said.
The former UN chief left the country on Wednesday evening after a four-day visit in the country to review the pace of the reform agenda. The Chief Mediator 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.
He 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.
While he acknowledged progress had been made, he said it was important for the President and Prime Minister to listen to the voices of Kenyans, who were concerned over the pace of reforms.
The civil society has been consistent in criticising the government over its slow pace of reforms. The American government two weeks ago issued warning letters to 15 Kenyans it accused of undermining the reform agenda. Britain followed suit saying it had banned about 20 government officials and businessmen.
Dr Mutua however hit at government critics saying that their continued vilification was discredited by the Chief Mediator.
“There were those who had been shouting that we (government) have not done anything but he (Dr Annan) has now said that we have undertaken some reforms but we need to accelerate the pace,” he said.
The reforms contained in the National Accord 18 months ago include changes in the Judiciary, Police department and the Office of the Attorney General. Others are land reforms, a new constitution, employment creation, electoral reforms and dealing with ethnic tensions.
Already, the government has effected changes within the police force, and is currently implementing a report of the Taskforce mandated to propose changes. The Cabinet has already endorsed a land policy which now awaits discussion in Parliament while a judicial taskforce report is before Cabinet for discussion.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission and the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission are making progress at instituting major electoral changes. The Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative is a government policy of creating employment to over 300,000 youths. The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the Race Relations commissions are other initiatives by the government on the reform agenda.
“The government is committed to these reforms and is undertaking them for the benefit of Kenyans. These reforms are homegrown and the coalition government is committed to carrying them completely,” he said.
Dr Mutua supported Mr Annan’s view that both the International Criminal Court and the Local tribunal should try suspected perpetrators of post election violence.