, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 9 – The African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities on Tuesday commended Kenya for the ongoing judicial reforms.
Speaking after holding talks with Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, the chairman of the panel Kofi Annan said the reforms are key in creating an independent Judiciary.
“The independence and integrity of the Judiciary has given hope to the people of Kenya. We are very pleased with the determination and energy with which the Chief Justice and his team have proceeded,” he asserted.
He said the reforms will also promote trust, confidence and at the same time restore respect for the rule of law.
Annan – who noted that implementing reforms takes time – was happy that the Judiciary is determined to assure Kenyans that they can get justice locally which is also an important milestone in establishment of a democratic society.
“We need three pillars to build healthy societies; security, development and rule of law and respect of human rights – if you don’t have everything rooted on that you maybe building on sand.”
The former UN Secretary General called on Kenyans to back the judicial reforms by observing the rule of law to ensure every citizen has access to equal justice despite their social, economic or political status.
He also acknowledged that Kenya is making important progress in preparation for the March 4, 2013 general elections.
Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa who is also a member of the panel said he hoped that Kenyans, and especially politicians, will act in accordance with the spirit of the new Constitution.
Annan and Mkapa who arrived on Monday for a four-day visit will meet the civil society and leaders of other government institutions to offer encouragement ahead of the March elections.
The two personalities are part of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team that brokered a power sharing deal between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in 2008 after the disputed presidential poll that led to the deaths of over 1,300 Kenyans and displacement of over 650,000 others.
Apart from the power sharing deal that ended the political stalemate, the team which includes Graça Machel-Mandela also designed a long-term reform agenda intended to improve democracy, governance and most importantly ensure free and fair elections.