Sunday, October 4, 2009

Annan flies in to add pressure for reforms

Mediator Kofi Annan at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during his last visit to Kenya. Annan is expected back on Tuesday during which he is scheduled to hold talks President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the progress of the reforms programme and the prosecution of masterminds of the post- election violence. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

Mediator Kofi Annan at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during his last visit to Kenya. Annan is expected back on Tuesday during which he is scheduled to hold talks President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the progress of the reforms programme and the prosecution of masterminds of the post- election violence. Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE 

By OLIVER MATHENGE

Mediator Kofi Annan flew into the country at 7.20pm on Sunday for a four-day visit likely to pile even more pressure on the government over reforms.

Mr Annan is expected to pressure Kenyan leaders to speed up the pace of reforms, a key pillar of which is the trial of those who bear the greatest responsibility for the violence that claimed more than 1,000 lives early last year following disputed presidential elections.

Electoral cycle

He said the country had no option but to institute all reforms in the next one year, adding that it would be dangerous for Kenya to “enter the next electoral cycle” without reforms.

“With a sense of urgency and national spirit, it can be done and within a reasonable time,” Mr Annan said outside the Serena hotel.

“Kenya leaders must listen to the voices of the people, and this is what I will tell the two principals and other political leaders,” he said.

The former UN secretary-general arrived as the government continues to face immense international pressure — including travel ban threats — over the pace of reforms.

There is also anxiety in official circles on the expected visit of International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who is believed to be readying the ground for arrest and trial of some Cabinet ministers and other key planners and financiers of post-election violence.

Mr Annan will meet President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in their respective offices before the three retreat for a private lunch meeting at midday.

He will meet Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka before the lunch meeting and Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo later in the day.

On Tuesday, the former UN chief will engage ministers, NGOs, religious groups and the business sector on the progress made in the reforms especially those under Agenda Four.

Mr Annan comes to Kenya at a time when debate on trials at The Hague for those behind the post-poll violence is raging on. Discussions with the principals will include what steps the country will take after failing to meet the September 30 deadline to set up a local tribunal.

Historical injustices

Mr Moreno-Ocampo has said he wants to consult with the President and the PM on the way forward after the government failed to meet the deadline agreed on for a local special tribunal.

Besides the search for justice, Mr Annan is expected to engage the country’s leadership on the slow pace of reforms envisaged under Agenda Four of the National Accord. The agenda deals with legal and institutional reforms, land reforms, historical injustices, poverty and inequality.

The international community led by the United States of American, have expressed concern over the slow pace of reforms.

The Obama administration and Canada have threatened to bar 15 Kenyan leaders from entering their countries. The 15 have been accused of hindering reforms.

Last Friday, the European Union expressed concern over the pace of reforms and urged the government to speed up the process. On the same day, former colonial masters, Britain, revealed that they have a list of 20 Kenyan personalities who it will deny visas over corruption.

But as Mr Annan flew into the country, Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua was putting up advertisement discrediting the international community’s stand on the pace of reforms.

The third report released last month by South Consulting, the team tasked by the Panel of Eminent Persons to monitor progress of Agenda One to Four, also decried the slow pace of reforms.

The report by the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Monitoring Project indicates that insecurity is one of the reasons why some of the people displaced during the post-election violence have not gone back to their farms.

On Agenda Four, the report says that things are moving rather slowly, adding, however, “it is commendable that there is movement in each of the main components that constitute Agenda Item 4”.

Mr Annan was last in the country on October 16 last year when he received the Waki report on post-election violence. He is also expected to engage the country’s leadership on the stalled efforts to try the post-election violence suspects.

The latest development indicates that the ICC has narrowed down on at least four top Kenyan officials, including three Cabinet ministers for possible trials over the post-election violence. The ICC prosecutor is expected in the country soon to meet the two principals and chart a way forward.

The persons bearing the greatest responsibility seem to have been drawn from a combination of reports on the violence including that by the Justice Philip Waki inquiry.

The Waki report identifies a key office holder at the highest level of government who may have directly participated in the preparation of the attacks.

The official is suspected of having chaired two planning meetings held in State House and Nairobi Safari Club in the run up to the election with the involvement of senior members of the Government and other prominent Kikuyu personalities.

It also speaks of another prominent politician who during a public meeting in Kiptororo in Kuresoi in December 2007, reportedly urged the Kalenjins to fight the Kikuyus until they leave Molo area.

The politician is said to have once told his supporters that “all the investors in Kericho and in the estates will be either Kalenjins or Indians”.

Another probable individual in the list is said to have said during an opening ceremony for the Seventh Day Adventist Church in a place called Mailing, that they would uproot the “sangari”, ‘shake off the soil’, ‘gather it together and ‘burn it’, in reference to ‘outsider’ communities.

A senior official of a State security agency said to have carried out indiscriminate killings has also been named as one of those who have been the focus of investigations.