Kenya must undertake political reforms in the next year or so to avoid renewed violence at its next election in 2012, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says.
“In my judgment you probably have a year to maximum 15 months for the parliament to push through the reforms,” Annan said after a two-day conference marking the first anniversary of a power-sharing deal he negotiated to end Kenya’s bloody post-election crisis.
“I cannot contemplate violence in 2012. Kenya cannot afford it and this is why I am pushing as hard as I can… to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to avoid any violence,” he told a news conference.
Reuters notes violence triggered by suspicions a late-2007 presidential vote was rigged killed an estimated 1300 people in Kenya and caused 300 000 to flee their homes.
Annan negotiated an agreement with President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is now prime minister, to bring an end to the unrest.
At the conference’s opening, Annan had said that Kenyans had initially welcomed the coalition government’s programme of reform, but had grown disillusioned and cynical about its prospects because of rampant corruption.
Kibaki and Odinga have failed to push through the creation of a special tribunal to investigate the violence by a March 1 deadline.
Under the terms of a government-accepted inquiry, Annan is supposed to hand a sealed envelope holding the names of 10 top suspects to the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) once the deadline has passed.
“If they don’t make that effort I will have to give the envelope to the ICC,” Annan said.
Senior Kenyan officials including Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Justice Minister Martha Karua attended the conference organised by the Kofi Annan Foundation, set up in Geneva to support peace-making around the world.