Annan team tells Principals to take charge of reforms before 2012 polls


Chief Mediator Kofi Annan and former South African first lady Graca Machel address a media briefing at the Serena Hotel December 8,2009. A statement from the team advises the government to consult all players before coming up with laws to enforce the new Constitution.

The government was on Wednesday asked to resolve disputes delaying the enforcement of the new Constitution to avoid another conflict in 2012.

The Panel of Eminent African Personalities, chaired by chief mediator Kofi Annan, also warned the Principals that time was running out for the enactment of key Bills.

“The window for passing parliamentary Bills might close by December 2011 and the campaigns begin in earnest.

“With an uncertain future in national politics, there is little to bind politicians to the Principals,” they said in a statement.

The statement links the delays to issues raised by the “No” side during the referendum.

It also lists the fears of minority groups, religious intolerance, inadequate civic education, fears of losing dominant positions and lack of political consensus among issues President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga must address.

“The challenges facing the birth of a new Kenya, are many— some unrealistic and yet they must be addressed.

“The new society is yet to show; there are signs that old habits have not died. The public will be disillusioned once they see the culture of ‘business-as-usual’ slipping back,” the statement says.

The statement advises the government to consult all players before coming up with laws to enforce the new Constitution.

“The Executive itself has to learn a new art of practising politics where power is shared with other arms, counties and independent constitutional commissions.

“Trying to find the right balance will be difficult during the initial stages of implementation of the Constitution,” it adds.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga are urged to build consensus among MPs on contentious issues, citing the wrangles in the Justice and Legal Affairs committee.

“It is important for the government to engage in building bi-partisan consensus and alliances for the passage of key Bills in Parliament.

“Regular joint parliamentary group meetings for the coalition partners are one way of building the consensus.”

It warns that although more than 70 per cent of Kenyans endorsed the new Constitution, this does not guarantee smooth implementation.

“The endorsement and promulgation of the new Constitution should not mask the fact that it faced considerable opposition from some key groups and influential actors in the Kenyan society,” it says.

The “No” camp comprised Eldoret North MP William Ruto, churches, retired President Moi and a dozen other leaders.

Mr Ruto and the clergy have also ganged up against the nomination of Dr Willy Mutunga as the next Chief Justice, citing integrity and moral issues. (READ: Catholics oppose CJ, deputy nominees)

“Now that the process has moved on, we are calling on Parliament to pick the right candidates. We need people with judicial philosophy that reflects natural law,” said John Cardinal Njue in a statement on behalf of the Catholic Church on Tuesday.

Their study warns that there are many leaders who only support the new law for fear of reprisals from the Principals.

“One should also not gloss over the fact that there were many ‘water melons’ or influential leaders on the ‘Yes’ side who did not welcome the new Constitution but nonetheless pretended to be endorsing it.

“The support of others was secured through political coercion. These remain and may cause setbacks throughout the implementation process,” it says. The statement analyses the voting patterns during the referendum.

“Some of those who voted ‘No’ feared local domination in the new counties. They wanted their own counties. This is an issue the implementation process must acknowledge and recognise as central to implementation.

“To assuage the fears of the numerically small groups in the counties, legislations on county governments must underline the principle of ‘inclusive government’ and ensure that all groups are adequately represented.”

It also urges the government to address the question of religious intolerance which saw churches oppose the entrenchment of the kadhis’ courts in the Constitution.

“During the referendum campaigns, the country was confronted by religious intolerance. Thus, it is important for the government, Church and civil society to engage in efforts towards building religious tolerance amongst the people,” it says.

South Consulting also singled out conservatives in the regime, warning that they could derail the process purely for self-preservation.

“There is resistance to change by those who stand to lose from change. They opposed the Constitution because of self-interest rather than ideological position,” it warns.