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Kenya must hasten reforms, says UKenvoy

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 16 – The United Kingdom now says it is concerned with the country\’s slow pace of implementing electoral reforms that would guide next year\’s general elections.

Speaking at his residence in Muthaiga on Thursday, British High Commission to Kenya Rob Macaire argued that urgent reforms were required in the country\’s electoral processes to ensure that a repeat of the 2007 post poll violence did not recur.

He noted that next year\’s elections were complex and required adequate preparations in order to avoid hitches, further observing that Kenya was yet to reach an agreement over when to set the elections date.

The Commission for The Implementation of The Constitution says the elections should be held in August while a section of MPs argue that they should be held in December. Others are also of the opinion that the elections should be held in 2013.

CIC moved to the Court of Appeal last year to get interpretation about when the polls should be held.

"And if you think about the importance of the institutions around elections and what that meant in 2007 then you realise that it is really worrying that the mechanisms are not in place to have a transparent and trusted set of institutions," said Mr Macaire.

He also raised the red flag over the delay in setting up the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) saying it ought to be in place already.

He further urged MPs to provide political leadership and ensure that the laws were put in place on time arguing that there was need to have a broad political consensus that would in turn facilitate electoral reforms.

"Next year\’s elections will be a very hard contest and the referees of that contest need to be impartial so they need to be appointed soon so that they can get on with their job," he argued.

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"If they are not the responsibility will fall very heavily on the current Parliament and government," he said.

The CIC and the IIEC however maintain that all electoral laws will be in place by August 27.

He also challenged the country\’s leaders to reduce and stabilise the political risk involved in the elections in order to encourage investors. Mr Macaire said that the move would reduce uncertainties about the state of affairs in the country after the elections.

"Investors who come here and create opportunities are aware of this risk and they know that if affects this economy. Everyone hopes that the elections will go smoothly," he said.

Mr Macaire added that the UK would continue supporting all the Agenda IV items required for reforms in the country as well as the provision of civic education for Kenyans as a means of preparing them for next year\’s elections.

He also reminded Attorney General Amos Wako of the importance of extraditing Nambale MP Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power and Lighting Company MD Samuel Gichuru who are wanted in the UK Island of Jersey for money laundering charges.

The High Commissioner said Britain was looking into the appeal filed by Yagnesh Devani who wants the bid to extradite him to face fraud charges in Kenya blocked.

"The authorities in Jersey are extremely serious about this case. They have made the extradition request with a very strong argument as well as evidence. That case is with the Attorney General and we expect it to be dealt with swiftly," he said.

The British Ambassador spoke during a reception commemorating the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

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