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Kibaki and Raila insist they are reformers

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have defended their performance on the reform agenda during a meeting with visiting Chief Mediator Kofi Annan.

In a joint statement, the two principals said that under the circumstances, the overall progress made by the Grand Coalition Government in the implementation of the reform program was impressive.

They told Mr Annan that the Grand Coalition Government opted to accord priority to reconciliation in dealing with the perpetrators of post-election Violence, while leaving the door open for the suspects bearing the greatest responsibility to be tried by the International Criminal Court.

"The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation commission is not going to handle perpetrators of post-election violence but will deal within its mandate of correcting historical injustices and bringing about national reconciliation," the statement read in part.

In the one hour meeting, the government reiterated that it was committed to a new constitutional dispensation that would support the reform agenda.

"The Grand Coalition government is committed to finalising the review on time.  The Grand Coalition Government has resolved to deal with all the contentious issues as a Coalition Government," the statement said.

The Principals cited reviews in the judiciary, police force and the creation of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission and the Interim Independent Boundary Commission as proof for their commitment.

"For the first time since independence, the Grand Coalition Government has prepared a comprehensive land policy. The policy addresses critical issues such as land administration, access to land, land use planning, restitution of historical injustices, environmental degradation, conflicts, unplanned proliferation of informal urban settlements, outdated legal framework, institutional framework and information management," the statement added.

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Mr Annan arrived in the country on Sunday for a four day visit and was expected to meet the members of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, the civil society and other senior government officials.

Upon his arrival Dr Annan challenged the government to listen to the voices of the people and do more to push forward the essential reforms.

Kenya has found itself on the receiving end of critics with claims that the government has reneged on the commitment to reforms. The United States kicked up the storm a week ago when it issued warning letters to 15 prominent Kenyans it claimed were frustrating the reform agenda. Britain too has threatened travel bans on about 20 individuals.

On Friday, the European Union said it would – in collaboration with other development partners – devise steps to exert enough pressure for the acceleration of the implementation of the reform agenda.

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