Friday, October 2, 2009



By Standard Team

US President Barack Obama is unrelenting; Chief Prosecutor at The Hague Luis Moreno-Campo is ready to make Kenya an example to the world on ending impunity, and mediator Kofi Annan is coming.

The sustained pressure to cajole President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to get Kenya back on the comprehensive reform track will today be boosted by the 27-country European Union. Canadian High Commission in Nairobi has similarly warned it would not allow anti-reform and corrupt individuals to set foot in their country.

The intensity of activity in the international arena makes the country look like it is back where it was when violence raged and Kibaki and Raila were being persuaded to share power.

Dr Annan, who led the mediation talks last year under the auspices of African Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities, arrives on Sunday for what, in the diplomatic language coached by is office, would be an assessment mission.

Round of talks

Annan’s office said the chief mediator was looking "forward to holding discussions with the two principals ... as well as the members of the Dialogue Team and other political leaders".

The statement gave his visit the ring of another round of talks and boardroom ultimatums.

But it is not Annan alone who wants to meet Kibaki and Raila. On Wednesday, Ocampo too, announced, "further consultations between coalition principals President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga and himself would take place in the coming weeks".

Kibaki and Raila on the spot over reforms as Obama breathes fire, Ocampo steps in and Annan returns.

Coming days after the only surviving superpower put Kenya on its radar, and warned of dire action if it gets off the reform track, there is more to the visit than is being said.

Unfinished business

The weighty nature of the visit aimed at giving Kibaki and Raila fresh ultimatums and getting them back to the unfinished business was discernible from an outstanding paragraph from Annan’s office.

The series of events are said to be fuelled by renewed fear that, without institutional reforms, 2012 General Elections could be more dangerous to Kenya than 2007 post-poll chaos.

It said that while in Kenya, Annan would not only meet Kibaki and Raila, "for discussions on progress, especially on Agenda Four items", but will also "exchange views with representatives of civil society, including religious leaders and the business community, and other stakeholders regarding the reform process.’’

It also put on record, in all probability to set the tempo for his visit, that he was last in Kenya, "exactly a year ago when he received, on behalf of the Panel, the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence".

The fact that Ocampo was in the US last week where he met Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who herself came to Kenya in August, and delivered a warning flavoured with diplomatic language, appear to suggest Obama has gone full blast on Kenya.

All these, together with Ocampo’s statement on Wednesday, and news of Annan’s visit yesterday, and today’ statement by EU and Canada, appeared choreographed, with the message the international community is watching Kenya.

It was the US, and then under President George W Bush, the UN, EU, African Union and Canada that pushed Kibaki to negotiate as violence raged.

Today, it is Obama, and the same forces, except the UN, which has not spoken, but has been instrumental in reforms, justice workshops, and IDP resettlement.

"Kenya will show how to manage past violence, and how to create a peaceful process, for the upcoming elections in 2012. Kenya will be an example to the world," Ocampo said on Wednesday.

It is notable Annan arrives barely a week after the United States issued 15 letters warning ministers, MPs and Permanent Secretaries that they risked travel bans if they frustrate reforms.

Obama and the international community have gone full throttle, even after Kibaki accused the US of undermining his authority and breaching protocol.

Ocampo said he would prosecute those who planned and financed the violence, and leave minor offenders to a local tribunal.

Kenya is still grappling with attempts to create a tribunal through a Bill sponsored by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara. The Bill is before Parliament.

Cited setbacks

An audit report on the Grand Coalition Government’s progress commissioned by the Panel and carried out by South Consulting firm cited some of the setbacks.

On Agenda Item Four, which seeks to tackle long-term issues, the Panel says the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review had made positive progress in identifying contentious issues.

But it says the contest between offices of the President and that of the Prime Minister could further discourage the quest for achieving consensus, with other political parties taking different positions.

"The public is eagerly awaiting a new constitution and failure to deliver it on time would result in increased disillusionment and feed the growing anger against political leaders," the report released three weeks ago, warned.

Kibaki and Raila’s coalition advisors Kivutha Kibwana and Miguna Miguna have been trading accusations about claims of attempts to influence constitutional review.