Kenyans want action from govt: Annan

Kenyans want their coalition government to take concrete action on impunity and political reforms to avoid a repeat of last year’s post-election violence, former United Nations chief Kofi Annan said yesterdy.
Annan chaired weeks of negotiations last year to end the ethnic violence that killed at least 1300 people and uprooted 300 000 after opposition leader Raila Odinga disputed President Mwai Kibaki’s election win, Reuters reports.

Kibaki remained president and Odinga became prime minister in the deal to form the coalition government. But they have been dogged by accusations that reforms promised to avoid a repeat of the violence have been delayed and those behind the blood-letting are no closer to facing trial.

“The challenge is to achieve these reforms before the country enters the next electoral cycle in about one year or 18 months’ time. That is what I will be discussing here, starting with the two principals,” said Annan, who will meet Kibaki and Odinga today.

The coalition government has pledged to bring in a new constitution, reform the police, judiciary and electoral process, as well as tackling festering disputes over land ownership that fuelled much of the violence.

But Annan’s frustration with the slow pace of progress became evident in July when he handed over a list of the top violence suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
“Clearly the Kenyan people are expecting more from the coalition government, more unity of purpose, more progress on the reform agenda and more concrete action to end impunity and combat corruption,” Annan told reporters yesterday.

While Kenya may still have the option of setting up a local tribunal to try the main perpetrators, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo seems to be running out of patience.

He said on September 30 he would pursue charges against top suspects behind the violence and make Kenya an example to the world on dealing with impunity. Moreno-Ocampo is due to hold “decisive” talks with top Kenyan officials in the coming weeks.

Many Kenyans are also growing frustrated with the government’s performance and the lack of progress in prosecuting the big fish. Surveys show the majority would like some suspects to face the ICC. The influential Sunday Nation newspaper said in an editorial it was right that The Hague should take over.

Annan steered clear of the debate over how, or where, the suspects should face prosecution.

“With a sense of urgency and a national spirit it can be done, and done in a reasonable time. Achieving reforms would also depend on the strong commitment and political will, I repeat political will, of the coalition parties and parliamentarians,” he said.

Pic: Former United Nations Chief: Kofi Annan