Saturday marks the first anniversary of the power-sharing agreement
between Kenya's two main political factions, which put an end to two
months of ethnic and political violence that killed over 1,000 people.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who mediated the agreement,
called on Kenya's leaders to renew their commitment to the reforms they
agreed to address, if they want to avoid a return to violence.
One year ago, Kenya's
president, Mwai Kibaki, and his chief opponent in the December 2007
election, then-opposition leader Raila Odinga, signed an agreement to
share power. The agreement installed Mr. Odinga in the newly-created
job of prime minister.
The deal put an end to the violent
protests and ethnic attacks that had killed over 1,000 people and
displaced hundreds of thousands following the disputed announcement of
Mr. Kibaki's re-election.
So far, the coalition has held, and
widespread violence has not returned. But Kenyans appear increasingly
pessimistic about the coalition government's ability or commitment to
address the major challenges facing the country, from corruption, to
constitutional reform, to punishing the perpetrators of last year's
In a recorded audio address, Mr. Annan echoed this sentiment.
considerable progress was made in the early stages of the process, that
momentum has been lost. One year after the signing of the power-sharing
accord, Kenyans are feeling frustrated at the slow pace of change. I can
understand those sentiments," he said.
In addition to the
political arrangement - in which Mr. Odinga's party controls a majority
in parliament and half the Cabinet appointments, while Mr. Kibaki
retains the powerful presidency - the country's leaders agreed to
tackle underlying problems that contributed to the violence. Mr. Annan
says there has been little progress in this regard.
causes of last year's crisis need to be comprehensively addressed if
the country is to avoid a repeat of the violence. These include
constitutional and institutional reforms, land reform, and reducing the
huge gap between the haves and the have-nots. Other priorities are
creating more jobs for youth, equal access to opportunities, promoting
ethnic harmony, ending the culture of impunity, and promoting
transparency and accountability," he said.
A new constitution
was to be introduced within a year of the new government, but there has
been little action so far. The government has introduced a bill to
create an independent tribunal to try those suspected of organizing the
post-election violence, but lawmakers have so far rejected it. Much of
the government's energy has been spent responding to other crises,
including a food shortage, and a series of corruption scandals.
latest crisis to hit the government is the recommendation by the U.N.'s
special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings that Kenya's police
commissioner and attorney general step down for their role in allowing
widespread executions by the police force.
On Friday, a
coalition of NGOs urged the government to endorse the rapporteur's
recommendations. The director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission,
Muthoni Wanyeki, said his findings are the product of a comprehensive
"In light of this the undersigned organizations
hereby demand that the government takes all measures to one, forthwith
retract their ill-advised dismissal of the U.N. rapporteur's report and
acknowledge the wide spread of state-perpetrated executions," said
The government's spokesman has rejected the
rapporteur's recommendations, though others in the government,
including Justice Minister Martha Karua, an ally of the president, have
said the government will consider them.
divisions, both between the major parties, and between members of the
same faction, have been on open display since the coalition was formed.
a statement released Friday, President Kibaki said the government had
made "commendable progress" toward fundamental reforms, including the
creation of commissions to investigate post-election violence and the
electoral system. He said the government was working on
recommendations by the commissions.
In an interview published in
newspapers Saturday, Prime Minister Odinga said the coalition has been
laying the foundation for future reform, and that more progress would
come by the time the next elections arrive in 2012.
But in a
recent poll, a majority of respondents said the government has not had
any major accomplishments. And a majority also said they thought the
government would not hold together until the next elections.