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Kofi Annan urges Kenyans to act now to accelerate the pace of reform

31 March 2009 | Kenya

Kofi Annan has today called on Kenya's leaders to accelerate implementation of the country's reform process agreed in February 2008. Speaking in Geneva, Mr Annan stated: “Kenya is at a crossroads. The time to act is now.”

Mr Annan's remarks were made at the Opening Plenary of 'The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation – One Year Later', a two-day meeting hosted by the Kofi Annan Foundation to review the mediation process in Kenya in 2008 and to share lessons learned with Africa and the wider world.

Addressing the 250 participants at the meeting, Mr Annan said: “There is no disagreement on what needs to be done. All that is lacking is effective action. The parties have already agreed on a blueprint for building a more equitable, prosperous and just society. That blueprint is found in the reform package agreed in the National Dialogue.”

Mr Annan praised the efforts of all Kenyans in 2008. He said: “The cessation of violence was a great achievement on the part of the political leadership and the people of Kenya. Kenyans should be very proud for having brought the country back from the brink. There was no alternative to dialogue and mediation, and the leaders found the courage and wisdom to seek a political settlement to stop the killing.”

But Mr Annan went on to warn that “the achievements of 2008 were only a beginning and most of the hard work remains to be done.”

The slow pace of reform, he said, had caused disillusionment among ordinary Kenyans. “There is a collective understanding of what needs to be done to move the country forward. The average person finds it hard to comprehend why the changes, some of them very fundamental, are not taking place at a faster pace.”

He cautioned: “Negotiating and signing a peace agreement is the easy part. Implementation is much more complex and much more difficult. An agreement, no matter how beautiful its text, is merely a piece of paper unless it is actually implemented faithfully, in both letter and spirit.”

Mr Annan stressed that the lessons from Kenya have a wider relevance for Africa and elsewhere. “A number of the causes underlining the crisis in Kenya in 2008, including the politicisation of ethnicity, non-adherence to the rule of law, corruption and the abuse of power, and inequitable development, exist in other parts of Africa and across the globe. I believe this is one reason why the world is paying such attention to the way Kenya grapples with these issues.”

The Kofi Annan Foundation will be publishing a full report of the outcomes of the meeting, which concludes on Tuesday 31 March, on its website:

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