Kofi Annan: Kenya risks sliding back to anarchy

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By David Ohito

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has written to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga with a stern warning: Kenya is courting another disaster by failing to implement the reform agenda.

Dr Annan’s warning becomes the latest in a series of indictments on the coalition Government principals’ performance.

The warning came only five days after religious leaders harshly rebuked President Kibaki and Raila and only a day after the release of an opinion poll showing that 70 per cent of Kenyans believe the Grand Coalition Government has achieved nothing since it was formed a year ago.

The religious leaders took on President Kibaki and Raila on Thursday during a fund raising-cum-prayer service at KICC, Nairobi, for the victims of the Nakumatt and Sachang’wan fire tragedies.

The religious leaders told the two principals that the Government had failed to uphold the rule of law, fight corruption and punish errant friends.

And yesterday, an opinion poll by the Steadman Group gave a harsh verdict on the performance of the Grand Coalition Government, scoring a paltry three per cent on national reconciliation, two per cent on fighting corruption and six per cent in addressing post-election chaos.

In a terse statement to the coalition principals Annan, who was the chief mediator in Kenya’s post-election conflict last year, warned that stability and prosperity were at risk if reforms were delayed.

New constitution

Some of the changes the two leaders were to implement include the reform of the electoral system, setting up of a truth and reconciliation process, ensure that perpetrators of post-election violence are tried, and chart the way for a new constitution.

Said Annan: “Failure by the Kenyan Government and Parliament to create a Special Tribunal would constitute a major setback in the fight against impunity and threaten the whole reform agenda, upon which Kenya’s stability and prosperity depend.”

Annan spoke on the day Parliament went on recess after the Government. This was barely a fortnight after it failed to marshal support to amend the Constitution and create the parallel court to try violence perpetrators.

And the defeat of the Bill was overwhelming, raising doubts whether the Government had done enough to marshal support for it.

The Special Tribunal was proposed by the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence chaired by Justice Philip Waki.

The violence, which was the worst in Kenya’s history, claimed more than 1,300 lives, displaced over 650,000 and threatened to bring the country to its knees.

Yesterday, ODM Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said the House could reconvene after the Easter holidays.

“We may resume business in April… may be after Easter,” Mr Midiwo said.

Special tribunal

Decrying the delay in creating the Special Tribunal to try post-election violence suspects, Annan warned that the country might be headed back to the kind of anarchy witnessed in January last year.

He similarly put leaders on notice that the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands, would be the next option should the authorities fail to create the local tribunal.

Annan reminded that the reform agenda may be derailed and “would constitute a major setback in the fight against impunity and may threaten the whole reform agenda”.

He cautioned that any attempts to set up a local tribunal must ensure it meets international legal standards.

“The Panel of Eminent African Personalities remains of the firm conviction that a Kenyan-owned-and-led process would be the most beneficial to the Kenyan people,” Annan said.

In a statement to newsrooms by his Spokesman Nasser Ega-Musa, Annan welcomed promised efforts by the leaders to re-engage Parliament to ensure the enactment of the legislation for the establishment of the Special Tribunal.

“It is the Panel’s view that such an effort should be encouraged and carried out within the shortest possible timeframe.” Annan added.

The Panel of Eminent African personalities was established by the African Union in January last year and includes former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and former South African First Lady Graca Machel.

No faith

Efforts by the two principals to re-introduce the Bill in Parliament is expected to meet stiff opposition from MPs who say they do not have faith in a local tribunal, saying politicians would manipulate it.

One of the major opponents of a local tribunal, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara yesterday said he would oppose attempts to pass the same Bill again if it would not involve the UN or other international organisations.

Speaking at a Press conference called by his party, Chama Cha Uzalendo in Mombasa, Imanyara said: “Our position remains the same and we will not accept a local tribunal if it does not have a mechanism to ensure success.”

He said he expects the Government to modify the proposals in the Bill to give the UN or the International Criminal Court a supervisory role.

— Additional reporting by Jibril Adan

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