Annan warns Kenya has only 18 months

kofi__annanThe Chief Mediator and broker of Kenyas power-sharing deal last year landed with a bang, the urgency of his message on Kenyas troubled reforms loud and clear.

Kofi Annan singled the most pressing matters as beating the deadline for a new constitution, and overhaul of the Judiciary and Police departments and electoral reforms.

Coalition leaders he said must listen to the voice of the people, which is pro-reforms, Kenya must have a new constitution in 18 months or before the next cycle of elections, and they must unlock the requisite political will to make things move. He was emphatic all these must be done before the 2012 General Election to avoid a repeat of 2007s shambolic elections and subsequent bloodletting.

Annan said Kenya must have a new constitution in 18 months or before the general election if the country is to avoid anarchy. Photo: Stafford Ondego

“I will be asking the coalition (led by President Kibaki and Prime minister Raila Odinga) to listen to the voices of the people of Kenya,” he said in his genteel diplomats language but for he emphasis he repeated the need for “political will” and cautioned that pressure on the leaders to fulfil their part of the deal they signed will rise.

“I will be pushing for fresh energy to complete the reforms in time, he said. He announced yet again he will meet Kibaki and Raila who referred to as the two principals as it were when Serena Talks were on last year religious and civil society members as well as other politicians and captains of industry and private sector representatives.

National accord

After pausing to let his message sink he declared: “It is a busy three days.” He did not take questions. “Far-reaching reforms such as the ones agreed on during the National Dialogue negotiations last year will necessarily take some time and a lot of hard work, not only on the part of the Government but on the part of all Kenyans… And yet, with a sense of urgency and national spirit, it can be done and done in reasonable time, the former UN chief added.

He went on: “I have been following events in Kenya very closely and clearly, the Kenyan people are expecting more from the Coalition Government more unity of purpose, more progress on the reform agenda, more concrete action to end impunity and combat corruption. Those sentiments are understandable, and I will be urging the Coalition Government to listen to the voices of the people and do more to push forward the essential reforms.

“Achieving reforms will also depend on the strong commitment and political will of the coalition parties and parliamentarians, he observed.

Annan is scheduled to meet Raila today at 9am and later Kibaki in the company of the PM for private talks over lunch.

He said his message to coalition leaders Kibaki and Raila will be to commit themselves to the war against corruption and impunity, just as their people are asking.

“Can you hear me?” he asked as he tested the microphones outside Serena Hotel on arrival last evening after a year since he last was here.

“I am extremely happy to be back,” said Dr Annan and pointed out he was in Kenya to check out the progress of implementing the National Accord signed 18 months ago.

“It is fairly straightforward now, Annan meets Raila first at 9am for what could be detailed discussions. At 12:45pm, they go joint lunch with Kibaki. Some PNU (Party of National Unity) guys were trying to cancel the lunch but it is now on, revealed a source familiar with Annans timetable and etiquette issues around it.

Dr Annan cast the image of messenger of peace and bearer of bad news rolled into one given the predictable outcome of his assessment visit.

His visit is billed to have three phases, first a stocktaking affair on how much of the reforms Kibaki and Raila agreed in the February 28, 2007 powers-sharing deal have they delivered. Secondly, Annan will listen to the views of Kenyans themselves on what they think has been gained or lost. To this end he will meet religious and civil right leaders as well as the cross-party team of ministers who constituted the core negotiating team whose sessions he chaired in Serena Hotel.

Third, Annan is expected to privately deliver the message of inevitability of reforms and the fact that they must be deep and far-reaching. He will also be speaking to Kibaki and Raila from the perspective of the international community that is impatient with what they see as Governments reluctance to punish impunity and corruption.

Example on impunity

To this end, a common thread is being seen in his visit, President Obamas strident warnings to Kenya, the unrelenting pressure from the European Union, and The Hagues Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampos declaration he is coming soon and will make Kenya an example to the world on impunity.

Annan stepped on the Kenyan soil, which not long ago was soaking with innocent blood as the struggled to get Kibaki and Raila on the negotiating table, as the two leaders struggled to ward off international pressure.

Raila warned Kenya would not take kindly pressure by development partners, who include America, 27-state European Union and Canada, arguing Kenya was neither under siege nor should the relationship with the Big Brother be that of a master and servant.

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Hours before Annan landed, Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, who theoretically speaks for one coherent Coalition Government but is routinely perceived to be speaking on behalf of the Presidents wing, put Kenyas successes on reform at a flattering 90 per cent. This in exam grading is a straight Distinction A coveted by every candidate and parent.

Mutua put up paid advertisements to run on the date of Annans arrival dismissing claims the reform progress was slow as the product of, “miscommunication, conspiracy and advocation of doom. If the various multi-sectoral reforms were not ongoing, according to Mutuas publicised table, they were ahead of schedule or in place. He strove to deflect mounting pressure on President Kibaki by donor states and the proximity of Kenyas date with Ocampo as based on untruths and misconception.

Raila said on Saturday: “We will meet with him (Annan) and compare notes. We will be sharing with him what we have achieved so far, what we are doing and be able to benefit from his advice.”

He added: “There is a lot that has been done. We need to compare the score card and see where we are, where we are slow and where we need to rectify; but not lectures.”

Though Kibaki has not commended directly on the mounting pressure by the international community he wrote a protest letter to US President Barack Obama saying: “The action by the US Government official is considered out of step with international protocols in the conduct of relations between friendly nations.” Separately, Raila met his advisers on Sunday afternoon to hammer consensus on what brief to give Annan when they meet.

The longstanding issues under Agenda item 4 were constitutional legal and institutional reforms, undertaking land reforms, tackling poverty and inequality.

The Standard

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