Former UN chief calls for faster reform in Kenya

10:26, December 09, 2009      

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Former UN chief Kofi Annan called on Kenya's leaders on Tuesday to quicken the pace of reform to avert a repeat of the violence that followed the disputed presidential elections in December 2007.

Annan, who brokered the power-sharing deal that brought an end to months of tribal violence that, killed at least 1,300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands, said fundamental reforms should be in place in early 2010.

"We urge Kenya's political leaders to show unity of purpose to achieve the objectives of the National Accord -- to deliver sustainable peace, stability and justice through the rule of law and respect for human rights," Annan told journalists after at the end of his two-day meetings in Nairobi.

"This is an important time in Kenya's history, one in which all Kenyans must take a clear stand and play their part," the former UN chief said.

Annan who chairs the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities has been in the country since last week with fellow Panel member Graca Machel and held a series of meetings in Nairobi with Kenyan leaders, foreign diplomats and civil society.

The two said they were encouraged by a number of positive developments in the last two months, particularly the publication of the Harmonized Draft Constitution, land policy and the final report of the National Task Force on Police Reform.

"We believe these developments reflect fresh momentum in the reform process. The progress that we are seeing is an encouraging indication of what Kenya can achieve," Annan said.

However, the former UN chief said that progress was not yet irreversible as much more still needs to be done to help stabilize the east African nation.

"In some areas the reforms are moving too slowly. We urge greater speed of action, particularly as the time for reform is shrinking. In our judgment, it will close as early as late 2010 when the next round of electioneering begins in earnest," Annan said.

The ruling coalition government had been accused of delaying reforms to the electoral system, the judiciary and land policy, as well as failing to address huge economic disparity.

These reforms were recommended by two independent commissions set up to probe the violence. Annan said that although work had begun in some of the areas, the pace of reform should be accelerated.

"Reforms must be deep-rooted, not superficial, in order to build the firm foundations on which Kenya's continued stability and prosperity depend," Annan said.

He expressed concern over the Kenyan leaders' failure to set up a local tribunal to prosecute senior politicians and businessmen accused of instigating the violence, as recommended in an independent inquiry into the violence.

Annan who handed over an envelope containing the names of suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) said a local tribunal was needed and that the ICC would also have to step in and try top-level suspects.

"We are also concerned that the government is yet to take the necessary and effective action to establish a local judicial mechanism to bring the perpetrators of post-election violence to justice," Annan said.

Source:Xinhua
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