Annan: Pressure has seen Kenya implement reforms

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2009 1:30 PM

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan on Tuesday praised Kenya's government for acting on reforms necessary to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed that followed the disputed 2007 president poll.

Annan, who had been sharply critical of the pace of reforms when he last visited the country in October, credited local and international pressure for forcing Kenya's government to take action.

Since October Kenya's government has been working to reform the police and has agreed to work with the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to see key perpetrators of the postelection violence tried at The Hague, Annan said.

He said this showed momentum is gathering to push through reforms.

"I sense a renewed energy, a renewed effort to implement the reforms. There are difficulties but the atmosphere is much better now than it was a few months ago," he said.

Annan attributed the change to international pressures _ the United States has imposed a visa ban on Kenya's attorney general and the prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, visited Kenya in November to initiate a process that could see perpetrators tried next year.

He also said demands from Kenyans are forcing politicians to consider new reforms, and encouraged them to keep up the pressure.

Annan also praised parliament's adoption of the country's first land policy, a significant step because ordinary Kenyans have demanded such a policy since independence from the British in 1963. Questions about the distribution of land in the country is believed to have helped fuel the 2007-2008 violence.

The former U.N. chief, however, said that some Kenyan politicians have been stoking ethnic divisions in the country in the past two months.

"It's as if 2007 didn't happen and it's politics as usual and appealing to ethnic and tribal interest. I think we need to put that behind us," said Annan.

Annan mediated a power sharing deal between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that ended the 2007-2008 postelection violence. More than 1,000 people were killed during that bloodletting.

Over the past week, he has had meetings with Kibaki and Odinga as well as diplomats, activists and others. Annan was last in Kenya in October to review progress Kenyan leaders were making.