Thursday, October 8, 2009



By David Ohito

Chief Mediator Kofi Annan gave his unflattering verdict after three days of knocking at doors to inquire about the state of the nation — Kenyans have lost confidence in their political leadership.

He also declared though progress had been made there were political shortcomings that could reverse the gains and take Kenyaback on the road of self-destruction.

Though Annan read from his usual diplomat’s glossary his statement was an indictment of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s leadership of the reform process.

After a cautious struggle not to sound either patronising or a soothsayer for the two leaders, he had direct messages for them:

— They must lead Kenya in accordance with the spirit in which the Grand Coalition was set up – to reform Kenya.

— They must lead the war on corruption, impunity and tribalism, and listen to the voices of Kenyans.

— Time is running out and Kenya is already halfway the road between 2007 chaotic elections, and the circle of the 2012 electioneering, usually a year to the polls.

— The pace of reforms must be accelerated and the Grand Coalition must demonstrate unity of purpose in the management of the review and commit to uniting the country.

— Kenyans hold the view they have not deployed their political backup to the reforms, a fact that may make what the experts are working on useless.

— A crisis of confidence on the political leadership permeates all corners of the country and,

— Despite Government’s own insistence it has achieved 90 per cent performance, he will circulate widely the report of a consultant team contracted by the Panel of Eminent Persons, which shows the reform process is six months behind schedule.

Deliver reforms

While acknowledging "progress is being made" by various governmental commissions in reforming key institutions, Annan said the pace must be accelerated, adding that Kenyans are concerned that the window of opportunity to deliver reforms was rapidly closing with the onset of another election cycle.

Dr Annan gives his final address to journalists after three days of meetings in Nairobi, Wednesdy, at the Serena Hotel, Nairobi. He said time was running out and Kenya’s moment of truth had come. [Photo: BONIFACE OKENDO/STANDARD]

"Kenyans cannot afford a recurrence of the crisis and the violence that followed the 2007 elections, and that serious risk is tangible if reform is not achieved," Annan warned.

He urged the Government to accelerate the pace of reforms, the need to end the culture of impunity, fight corruption, and to punish perpetrators of post-election violence.

In his address to the Press last evening at the end of his three-day visit, Annan stressed time and again that the Coalition Government "was established to undertake a programme of fundamental reforms to deliver sustainable peace, stability and justice through rule of law and respect for human rights."

"That was the stated goal of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation and it remains the benchmark by which this Government would be judged — by Kenyans and by Kenya’s partners in Africa and the wider international community," said Annan.

"My conversations with Kenyans during the last three days have showed there is a crisis of confidence in the political leadership ... I urge them to listen to the voices of Kenyans."

Annan, who emerged out of an hour-long meeting with Kibaki and Raila, said Kenya’s politicians are the key to achieving the reforms that the citizens desire.

Deliver solid work

The various experts working on reforms, he said, may deliver solid work, but politicians need to move it forward.

Annan said Kenyans were generally patient people, but "they are beginning to doubt if their leaders can deliver. As a consequence, healing and reconciliation may suffer. Kenyans want their leaders to lead," he added.

While fielding questions from journalists, Annan said a good leader must be a good follower and that if the leaders can’t lead the reform process, then Kenyans should spearhead the reforms.

On politicians’ position rebutting attempts to create a local tribunal to try violence suspects, Annan argued Kenyans are demanding that the Government brings to justice those responsible for post-election violence.

"It is not either the ICC or a local mechanism. It must be both," he said.

He welcomed the clarification by the President and the Prime Minister that the mandate of the TJRC would not be amended to include the prosecution of perpetrators of post-election violence.

Annan singled out the Committee of Experts for praise and announced it was expected to publish a draft constitution soon.

Asked how the coalition wrangles would be cushioned from spilling into the constitution making, Annan said it was up to Kibaki and Raila to reign in their troops to back the writing of the new law.

Unity of purpose

He similarly lauded police, land and electoral reforms, which were on course.

"Kenyans expect to see more unity of purpose, greater transparency, and more concrete action to end impunity and corruption."

He said it was time for leaders to act in the true spirit of the coalition and show co-ordination at the political and technical levels of Government to make efforts of reforms affective.

He saluted the strengthened spirit of reconciliation and good working relationship between President Kibaki and PM Raila.

"I sincerely hope that this new spirit will serve as a beacon for all politicians and Kenyans.

"Kenyans expect to see more unity of purpose, greater transparency, and more concrete action to end impunity and corruption."

He said it was time for leaders to act in the true spirit of the coalition and show co-ordination at the political and technical levels of Government to make efforts of reforms effective.

"I have heard persistent calls for the Government to be more proactive in its outreach and communication to highlight where progress has been made. Where there are obstacles to reform, these also must be revealed," he said.

The chief mediator singled out the crucial contribution of the civil society to the reform process. This cannot take place without the right protections of the democratic space.

"Freedoms of assembly, association, speech and information must be protected. I hope that the Freedom of Information Bill will soon be enacted." Annan pleaded.

He, like the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo, backed a three-tier approach in dealing with impunity.

"It is not either the ICC or a local mechanism. It must be both," he stressed.

It will now require the principals to marshal their troops in support of the privately sponsored Special Tribunal Bill by Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara.

Witness protection

The diplomat similarly called for measures to strengthen the protection of crucial witnesses.

"I leave Kenya feeling that there is new sense of urgency and seriousness around the reform programme. I hope this would be sustained over the coming weeks and months," said the former UN secretary general.

"Only hard work and, real commitment and political will that these reforms can be achieved," he added.

Annan left Wednesday evening and is expected back before the end of the year while International Criminal Court Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo is expected within two weeks.