Kenyan clergy meets Annan

March 24, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Various groups that have met former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan have accused the political class of shifting their focus to the 2012 general election and ignoring the reform agenda.

Religious leaders met the Chief Mediator on Wednesday and presented him a memorandum in which they raised concerns over the slow pace of the reform agenda.

“We are concerned that political leaders, on whose shoulders the burden of implementing the reform agenda was placed, have shifted their focus to the 2012 general election,” the statement read.

They continued to say: “The situation is made complex by the fact that one principal is retiring while the other is firmly in the 2012 presidential race. This has made synergy remote since succession politics rather than national wellbeing is the overriding consideration in their minds.”

The leaders also told Mr Annan that very little effort had been made to address underlying issues classified as the root causes of the 2007/2008 post election violence.

They rated the government’s effort almost at zero in dealing with poverty, unemployment and regional inequalities which are some of the challenges that were identified as primary causes of the violence.

According to the leaders, the government was also not doing enough to realise land reforms despite the Cabinet passing a new land policy, “This is quite sad considering that land ownership and use was one of the causes of the post election violence.”

But they appreciated that a lot had been achieved in constitutional reforms though they expressed worries that political, ethnic and religious interests had almost overshadowed the national concerns.

They also called for consensus to ensure that the draft enjoys majority support when it will be subjected to a referendum.

“It is our conviction that the draft Constitution should only be presented to the people in a referendum if it receives wide acceptance and support from across the nation,” the religious leaders said.

They said they were ready to dialogue with politicians and other stakeholders to cultivate consensus.

The leaders further complained to Mr Annan that the grand coalition government was notoriously washing its dirty linen in public which clearly indicated that the partners were not working together.

“Kenyans continue to hold the view that the government consists of two governments in one; it lacks cohesion leading to open and embarrassing disagreements on important national issues,” they said.

They singled out the differences that occurred after President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga disagreed over the resignation of two ministers allegedly involved in corruption.

Failure to fight corruption by the government was a major concern also shared by the international community.

Capital News established that the a number of ambassadors based in Kenya shared their fears with the Chief Mediator over failure by the government to establish a local tribunal.

The diplomats discussed with Mr Annan the importance of the government to pursue a local mechanism to try other perpetrators. According to a source privy to the discussions, the envoys hope that if the International Criminal Court (ICC) moves in, the government will get the urge to establish a local tribunal.

They also touched on controversies around the review process and hoped they will not thwart the process.

Mr Annan is expected to meet President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga and the civil society before completing his four-day visit to Kenya.


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