Annan urges Kenya to ensure free and fair 2013 general election

(African Elections) - Former United Nations Secretary General Dr. Kofi Annan Thursday concluded his four-day trip to Kenya with a raft of recommendations on how to ensure the country goes through the 2013 general election peacefully.

Exuding confidence that the polls will be fair owing to the transformative reforms the country has so far achieved, the chair of Eminent African Personalities said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission - IEBC would need ample support from all the three arms of government and the general public to execute a free and fair process.

Dr. Annan said the electoral commission can only succeed in the enormous task ahead if all government institutions and Kenyans in general commit themselves to owning the process.

He expressed concern over an upsurge of violence in parts of the country in the run to the next General Election terming it a threat to the nation recovering from the effects of 2007/2008 post election violence.

Annan cited reorganization of militia groups and incitement by a section of politicians as conflict indicators that should not be tolerated at such a critical period.

Speaking in Nairobi, Annan called on politicians to watch over their language as Kenya gears up for elections.

He also urged religious leaders and the media to play a pro-active role towards curbing instances of violence by ensuring a credible election and engaging in cohesion and reconciliation efforts.

The panel of African Eminent Personalities chair said the unfinished work of passing pieces of legislations necessary for a fair process such as the gender rule should be expedited to avoid last minute crisis.

Concerning the presidential bid of ICC suspects Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, the panel opined that it is upon the Kenyan courts to determine whether they should vie.

The panel undertook to make more frequent visits in the run up to elections to oversee a fair process.

The chief mediator concluded his mission, with one piece of advice; "Watch your tongues".

Dr. Annan Wednesday dismissed calls by a section of members of parliament allied to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta that he should meet all the presidential candidates.

On Wednesday he met House Speaker Kenneth Marende at Parliament buildings saying his mission was to meet the two coalition principals as they were the chief implementers of the four critical reform agenda as envisaged in the National Accord.

He said he met the PM in his capacity as one of the principals of the coalition government and not as a presidential candidate.

Annan and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa arrived in the country Monday for a four day visit in their capacities as members of the African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities.

Their visit aimed at giving support and encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country's institutions as Kenya prepares for the March 2013 General Election and an important government transition.

Dr. Annan said the IEBC can only succeed if all government institutions and Kenyans commit themselves to owning the electoral process.