Reforming The Political System
Kenya Presidential Election 2013: A Nation Prepared
Following the tragic post-electoral violence of 2007 and 2008, Kenya has made enormous strides in instituting political reforms that strengthen its institutions and its democracy. Kenya is today once again a nation on the rise. With another round of presidential elections less than a year away, the landscape approaching the next elections is very different than in years past. Passage of a new Constitution in August 2010 – and the political, judicial and parliamentary reforms it set in motion – paves the way for a peaceful, transparent and fair democratic process the next time Kenyans go to the polls.
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Establishing the Annan Agreement
After the disputed 2007 elections, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan brokered the Kenyan National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement, commonly referred to as the Annan Agreement. The Annan Agreement created a Coalition Government which has worked hard to implement government reforms in each of the Agreement’s four areas.
Kenya is making Progress
Two years after the outbreak of political violence, the Coalition Government of Kenya, comprised of former political rivals, continues to work together to implement many of the agreed upon requirements. Recent criticisms for members of the international community have not taken into account the work that has been done to stop corruption and reinforce justice.
As Kofi Annan said in March 2009 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Accords -”the cessation of violence was a great achievement on the part of the Kenyan political leadership and the people of Kenya.”
Progress in Each Area of the Agreement
Stopping Violence and Restoring Fundamental Rights and Liberties
The Kenyan government was mandated to immediately end all incidents of political violence and restore the fundamental rights of all Kenyans by ensuring the freedom of expression. To restore stability the government:
- Stopped political violence and established peace in the areas where political violence occurred
- Established the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (CIPEV) to specifically address the 2007/2008 post-election human rights violations
- Added police stations in areas that experienced heightened violence following the elections
- Drafted changes to the Constitution that grant greater autonomy of electronic and other media
Addressing the Humanitarian Crisis and Promoting National Healing and Reconciliation
As a result of the post-election violence, the Coalition Government focused on building public confidence in the government and promoting reconciliation by addressing the humanitarian crisis. On the path to reconciliation the government has:
- Resettled the internally displaced who were willing to return and established Peace and Reconciliation Committees
- Worked with NGOs and the Kenyan Red Cross to address the needs of internally displaced people through the cluster approach, which strengthens the coordination and response capacity by mobilizing clusters of humanitarian agencies to areas of need
- Proposed a bill to set-up a local tribunal to bring those responsible for instigating the post-election violence to justice. In addition to the private members bill proposed to Parliament, Kenyan leaders welcome the support of the ICC to arrest suspects for trial and the visit by lead prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo
Resolving the Political Crisis
Changes to the 2007 Constitution were made to allow for political power-sharing and the creation of a Coalition Government. To foster a cohesive political atmosphere, the government has:
- Established the National Accord and Reconciliation Act that amended the constitution and created the Coalition Government with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga sharing leadership power
- Maintained united and improved relations between the President and Prime Minister who appear in public together and hold weekly consultations
- Launched the Strategic Plan to identify methods to alleviate inter-ministerial conflicts and strengthen the office of the prime minister
- Dissolved the Electoral Commission that oversaw the disputed elections and launched an Interim Independent Electoral Commission which is improving the electoral process and asking the U.S. for electronic voting systems to create greater transparency
- Addressed disagreements between the two respective parties and is working to establish a common reform agenda
Addressing Long-Standing Issues
The Kenyan principals took this opportunity to address deep-rooted issues in the hopes of creating a more secure and prosperous nation. The issues include constitutional, legal, land, poverty, corruption, inequality and employment reforms. In only two years the government has:
- Implemented police reforms, removing the Police Commissioner, Major General Hussein Ali and six other senior police officers that were in place during the post-election violence
- Established the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to identify the root causes and individuals responsible for the human rights violations that have occurred from 1963 to 2008
- Appointed the Commissioner and members of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, of which five of the eight appointees are women. This commission also marks the first time Kenya will deal with ethnic issues
- Launched a National Economic Stimulus Program to boost economic recovery and improve food security
- Distributed capital to more than 57,075 youth enterprises through the Youth Enterprise Development Fund in the Rift Valley and Central Provinces.
- Worked with the Committee of Experts to draft a new Constitution, which the public supports
- Fortified the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission with new commissioners and management to increase its efficacy in dealing with corruption at all levels