Statement by Mr. Kofi Annan, Chair of the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities on the occasion of the second anniversary of the promulgation of Kenya’s constitution
The Panel of Eminent African Personalities joins the Government and people of Kenya in celebrating the second anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic.
The adoption of the Constitution on 27 August, 2010 was a watershed moment in the history of the country; the product of a decades-long struggle to reform the way in which Kenya is governed. It also marked the most significant milestone in the implementation of the reform agenda of the Coalition Government, which both partners had committed themselves to when the National Accord was signed in early 2008.
The successful conclusion of the constitutional review process was not, however, an end in itself. The overwhelming endorsement of the Constitution by referendum was an eloquent expression of the Kenyan people’s desire not only to see a clear break with the past, but also to participate in a new beginning for the country.
The comprehensive implementation of the Constitution is the roadmap by which the people of Kenya overwhelmingly wish to see the nation guided.
They wish to see the national values and principles of governance upheld to include integrity, transparency and accountability. The need for elected and appointed State officers to be leaders of integrity, as required under Chapter 6, is critical. Ensuring democratic and accountable exercise of power, and extending powers of self-governance to the people through devolution are equally vital.
The Panel welcomes the efforts by the Government of Kenya to operationalise the Constitution by ensuring that the Bills required by the Fifth Schedule are enacted within the timelines specified, particularly given their number and complexity. Concerns remain, however, about the extent to which some legislation adheres to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. We encourage members of the Executive and Legislature to remember that the power they exercise is used on behalf of the people they represent and can only be done in accordance with the Constitution.
There are still some gaps in key areas of constitutional implementation. These include the areas of police reform, in particular the creation of the National Police Service Commission and the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police; and the conclusion of the process to appoint commissioners to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. It is also critical that the issue of gender representation within the National Assembly receives the attention it deserves and is authoritatively concluded before it affects the electoral preparedness timetable. We are confident, however, that these and other outstanding tasks will be completed.
The effectiveness of the new Constitution in addressing the long-standing issues which were behind the Post-Election Violence in 2007/8 face no greater litmus test than preparations for and the conduct of the next General Election. It is imperative that the institutions responsible for ensuring free, fair, credible and peaceful elections earn and retain the confidence of the people of Kenya as they discharge their respective responsibilities. This is not limited to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, but includes, among others, the political parties, the security services and the Judiciary.
The next General Election is about more than just ensuring that the electoral process is transparent. The credibility of the polls will also be determined by the level of nationwide participation. The elections must be viewed by all Kenyans as a national civic responsibility and opportunity to determine their future. The Panel encourages the Government to engage in active and continuous dialogue within all counties to ensure that concerns specific to particular areas are discussed well in advance of the elections. The unity and cohesion of the nation continue to be of paramount importance. In this connection, the Panel welcomes the National Peaceful Elections Conference taking place this week in Nairobi.
The priority that the Panel of Eminent African Personalities places on the successful conduct of the forthcoming General Election mirrors the aspirations of the Kenyan people, who see the next poll as an opportunity to move beyond the dark days of 2007/8. The Panel stands together with the Government and the people of Kenya in bringing about the final goal of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation: to achieve sustainable peace, stability and justice in Kenya through the rule of law and respect for human rights.
References to this statement appeared in The Nation, Sunday 26 August 2012.
For media inquiries please contact: