Kofi Annan warns Kenya against delay in settting up tribunal

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nairobi - The Chairman of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, Kofi Annan, has warned that further delays in establishing a tribunal to try those accused of last year's post-election violence in Kenya could have grave consequences for the country's stability.

Noting that the Kenya's stability and prosperity depended on the success of the reform agenda, he said in letters to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that failure by the government and Parliament to create a Special Tribunal would constitute a major setback in the fight against impunity and might threaten the whole reform agenda in Kenya.

The former United Nations Secretary-General, however, said that the Panel of Eminent African Personalities remained of the firm conviction that a Kenyan-owned and Kenyan-led process would be the most beneficial to the Kenyan people.

Mr Annan said the panel welcomed promised efforts by the leaders to re-engage Parliament to ensure the enactment of the necessary legislation for the establishment of the Special Tribunal, urging that this be done within the shortest time possible.

He made it clear, however, that recourse to the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be made if the Special Tribunal was not established within a reasonable period of time.

He also stressed the need to ensure that legislation for the Special Tribunal met international legal standards and that it be broadly debated with all sectors of society in order to bring credibility to the process.

Mr Annan reaffirmed the panel's commitment to remain engaged and assist Kenya as it worked towards the important objectives of addressing impunity, and fostering reconciliation and long-term reform.

The Panel of Eminent African Personalities was established by the African Union in January 2008. The other members of the Panel are Benjamin Mkapa and Gra±a Machel.

The creation of a Special Tribunal to try those accused of post-election violence in Kenya was a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence (CIPEV) chaired by Justice Philip Waki.

On 12 February 2009, the Kenyan Parliament rejected a bill to establish the Special Tribunal.