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Saturday, 11 April 2009

Annan Tells Kenya to move fast

Robert Evans
GENEVA (Reuters) - Former 
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday urged Kenya's coalition government, in whose creation he played a key role, to move fast to implement agreed reforms and tackle widespread corruption.

Former U.N. General Secretary and President of the 
Global Humanitarian Forum Kofi Annan addresses the opening session of a two day conference at the Bank of Tanzania conference center in Dar es Salaam in this March 10, 2009 file photo. (REUTERS/Stephen Jaffe/International Monetary Fund/Handout) 
Kenya is at a crossroads. The time to act is now," he told a conference marking the first anniversary of the power-sharing agreement he negotiated between the country's two main political parties to end post-election violence.

Kenyans initially welcomed the programme of reform announced by the administration of 
President Mwai Kibakiand Prime Minister Raila Odinga, he said, but were now disillusioned.

"They are equally angry at widespread corruption and the lack of action to root it out," Annan told the gathering, attended by senior Kenyan officials including 
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Justice Minister Martha Karua.

"But the situation is not hopeless," the former U.N. chief said. "The government can turn things around by acting swiftly and effectively on the agreed constitutional, parliamentary, judicial, police and 
land reforms."

About 1,300 people were killed in Kenya's post-election violence in late 2007 and early 2008, triggered by suspicions the outcome of the presidential contest between Odinga and Kibaki was rigged.

Annan negotiated a deal with the two leaders that ended the unrest, which had caused 300,000 people to flee their homes.

The agreed reform programme included establishment of a tribunal to try the main instigators of the conflict, but that has yet to be set up.

Corruption is widely seen as flourishing under the coalition, according to diplomats and analysts in
Nairobi, and prominent anti-graft campaigner Mwalimu Mati said this month Kibaki and Odinga should beware the people's "revolutionary" spirit.

Earlier this month, thousands of students, slum dwellers and jobless people protested in Nairobi against alleged police killings in one of the worst bouts of political unrest since the post-election crisis.

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