, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 11 – The Panel of Eminent African Personalities on Thursday urged Kenya to deal with the rising cases of violence in parts of the country before elections are held in March next year.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who heads the panel told a news conference in Nairobi it was worrying that the violence was occurring a few months before the elections and cautioned the government to contain the situation and avoid a repeat of the 2008 violence.
“The panel is deeply concerned by an increase in tensions and violence in the run-up to the elections. The violence in Northern Kenya, the Tan River Delta and the Coast regions are a cause of great concern. Reports of militia groups re-organising or being created are equally worrying,” Annan who mediated Kenya’s peace following the post election violence of 2008 asserted.
Annan urged the government to address the new challenges to peace and unity to ensure it does not spill over to next year.
He further asked the government to expedite police reforms by urgently recruiting an Inspector General as required by the new Constitution to help the country maintain law and order.
In the company of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, Annan centered his points on the importance of Kenya holding free, fair and peaceful elections in which he also called on politicians to desist from incitement.
He also advised the legislators to ensure all crucial laws are passed and warned that if certain laws are not passed as required by the Constitution, the country may land into a legal crisis.
“The Constitution demands the implementations of the gender provision. Parliamentarians have an urgent responsibility to agree the mechanism for this implementation. Indeed it could lead to a constitutional crisis and leaders must do everything necessary to avoid this outcome,” Annan advised.
Annan said he was impressed by many of the reforms undertaken in the country, but insisted that much more needs to be done.
Concerning the 2008 post election violence, he said there was progress but urged the Truth Justice and Reconciliation and other relevant institutions to work on giving justice to victims.
He also warned Kenyans against viewing the cases at the International Criminal Court to be targeting any group.
“In every discussion that the panel has had, the cases before the ICC have been raised. There is only one way ahead. These cases are against individuals and not against any tribe or group,” he asserted.
Their tour of the country came to an end on Thursday afternoon without meeting President Mwai Kibaki as State House did not confirm their meeting as scheduled.
Since he arrived in the country, Annan has held meetings with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Speaker Kenneth Marende, officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, religious leaders, diplomats and members of the civil society.
He said his visits to Kenya will be frequent as the country gets ready to hold the first election under the new Constitution.