News 2008


Your role is vital and we can’t afford to fail, Annan tells MPs

Daily Nation

13. Feb. 2008

We have come here today to brief you on the progress of the National Dialogue and Reconciliation process.

We arrived three weeks ago, and have been engaged in face to face negotiations since January 29 after the parties appointed their teams.

We have committed to a resolution of urgent issues on the agenda in 7 – 15 days, and I believe we are making good progress. I want to applaud the members of the Kenyan National Dialogue and Reconciliation.

We have listened to a broad cross section of Kenyans, political leaders, women’s groups, religious leaders, youth groups, community-based organisations, representatives of the business community, legal and human rights groups and other civil society bodies.

We visited affected communities in the Rift Valley – in Molo, Cherengani and Burnt Forest – and were deeply moved by what we saw.

The crisis in this country is a challenge for all Kenyans, but it is also an opportunity for leadership and change in this country, to steer the nation towards stability, unity and peace. Your role in this will be vital.

Admire rich diversity

I came here to address you as representatives of the people of the whole of Kenya and not as a Parliament representing different communities.

We all have our multiple identities, be it ethnic, nationality, professional.

Nevertheless, you must all see yourselves as Kenyans first. I urge you to be proactive within your communities to foster this vision of one Kenya with a common destiny. You should stress what unites you and not what divides you.

There is beauty in diversity. For decades, outsiders have admired the rich diversity of your people, the wonderful animals (including a baby rhino named Kofi Annan), and the natural beauty of the land – all co-existing in peaceful harmony. What happened to that Kenya, and how can we restore it?

We started our work by agreeing an agenda, a road map, that would lead hopefully to a stable, equitable, democratic and prosperous Kenya.

We came up with a four-point agenda.

Item One: Measures to end the violence and restore fundamental rights and freedoms. Some key commitments were made:

* Those engaged in acts of violence cannot be allowed to act with impunity.

* The security forces must carry out their duties and responsibilities with complete impartiality without regard to ethnicity or political persuasion.

* Demobilisation and disbanding of all illegal armed groups and militias.

To ensure freedom of expression, press freedom and freedom of peaceful assembly are upheld. It is encouraging to see that both the ban on live broadcasts and on public assembly have been lifted.

We then turned to Agenda Item Two: Immediate measures to address the humanitarian situation and promote reconciliation, healing and restoration. Some of the key commitments on this agenda item include:

* Ensuring a secure environment, particularly for vulnerable groups, including women and children in displaced camps, and enabling safe return of IDPs and refugees to wherever they choose to go.

* The establishment of all-inclusive reconciliation and peacebuilding committees at the grassroots level to foster healing within and among communities.

* The establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission that includes local and international jurists.

Weekly progress reports on implementation will be made to the National Dialogue and Reconciliation by the relevant parties and institutions.

We are now discussing Agenda Item Three: How to End the Political Crisis.

While this is a difficult issue, the parties are working well together. A number of important points of agreement have already emerged.

Recognising that there is a serious crisis in the country, a political solution is necessary to promote national reconciliation and unity. It will also entail the establishment of a grand coalition government to undertake crucial and long overdue constitutional, electoral and other reforms.

This will require this Parliament’s strong support in the coming months and years.

Having explored all the options, and ways of trying to resolve the issues, we have concluded that there was no viable way to get at the truth immediately, either by retallying, recount or any other measure.

We agreed that it was important that the truth not be swept under the carpet. We need to know what happened.

We have agreed to establish an Independent Review Committee that would be mandated to investigate all aspects of the 2007 presidential election and would make findings and recommendations to improve the electoral process.

Beyond that, there is a need for comprehensive electoral reform – of the electoral laws, the electoral commission and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Beyond the elections, constitutional, legal, judicial and institutional reforms, as well as some reforms necessary to address the root causes of the conflict - such as land - need to be tackled with urgency and strong sustained political will.

I expect that we shall conclude our deliberations on Item Three this week.

We shall then move on to critical longer term issues under Agenda Item Four.

Tackle poverty

These include land reform, tackling poverty and inequity; addressing transparency, accountability and impunity and supporting equal access to opportunity.

Above all, a secure and stable environment for all Kenyans must be fostered. It is only in such an atmosphere that real reform and progress can take root, benefiting all people.

Some of these issues will require action by this Parliament. It will be critical that a legislative agenda is agreed so that you can move forward expeditiously with the important business of reform.

You will need to work together to implement this heavy agenda. Your active involvement, across party lines, is necessary. Without this, the government may be paralysed.

It is imperative that you engage with your constituencies to reduce tensions, violence and ensure stability for the people.

You need to take action quickly. As their representatives, your role in this is central and you must live up to your responsibilities. This is what the people demand, that is what they deserve.

When the panel met last Friday with President Kibaki and Hon Raila Odinga, we appealed to them to work together to heal and reconcile this country. You share that responsibility too.

We cannot afford to fail.