Annan, Mkapa visit Kenya ahead of 2013 polls

October 8, 2012 1:24 pm
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“The objective of the visit by Mr Annan and Mr Mkapa is to give support and encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country’s institutions as Kenya prepares for an important transition in 2013.”/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8 – Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and ex-Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa were expected to arrive Kenya later on Monday for a four day visit.

The two will be in the country as members of the African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities to offer encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country’s institutions ahead of the March 4, 2013 elections.

A statement from the Kofi Annan foundation said: “The objective of the visit by Mr Annan and Mr Mkapa is to give support and encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country’s institutions as Kenya prepares for an important transition in 2013.”

Their programme includes meetings with government officials, independent and constitutional commissions and other major stakeholder groups including business leaders, civil society, religious leaders, media and the international community.

“The priority that the Panel of Eminent African Personalities places on the successful conduct of the forthcoming general elections mirrors the aspirations of the Kenyan people, who see the next poll as an opportunity to move beyond the dark days of 2007/8,” Kofi Annan said in August this year on the second anniversary of the promulgation of the new Constitution whose review formed an integral part of the peace negotiations.

The two diplomats together Graca Machel, wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, were instrumental in bringing the warring sides of the Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity to the negotiating table following the hotly contested December 27, 2007 election.

The March 2013 general elections will be the first following the post-election violence and will bring to an end the coalition government which President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga entered into on February 28, 2008 ending months of bloodshed.

An estimated 1,300 people were killed in the violence, a further 3,500 injured and over 650,000 displaced. A number of those displaced still occupy camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

A statement from the Kofi Annan foundation said: “The objective of the visit by Mr Annan and Mr Mkapa is to give support and encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country’s institutions as Kenya prepares for an important transition in 2013.”

Chief mediator Annan is thought to have succeeded where others before him failed. The then African Union Chairperson John Kufuor preceded him, as did Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano in trying to broker peace.

In August this year, Annan said on Kenya: “The effectiveness of the new Constitution in addressing the long-standing issues which were behind the post-election violence in 2007/8 face no greater litmus test than preparations for and the conduct of the next general elections.”

The visit by Annan comes at a time when the country is witnessing cases of violence, especially in the Coast region in which it is suspected that politics is a key factor in the conflict.

Already, a commission of inquiry is investigating the clashes in the Tana Delta that left over 100 people dead following attacks on villages in August and September.

Annan also comes into the country against a backdrop of an incomplete Truth, Justice and Reconciliation process with the truth commission now seeking a nine-month extension.

The extension of the commission’s tenure has met opposition in Parliament with questions being raised on the justification for the additional time.

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