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Annan spoke for Kenyans over ICC accused

COMMENTARY
By - Charles Njonjo | October 23rd 2012

By Charles Njonjo

In 2010, the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health highlighted the suffering of women and children around the world caused by lack of access to life saving commodities.

Having orchestrated a drumbeat of chants condemning African Union mediator Kofi Annan as an outsider with no right to speak on the advisability of his running for the Presidency, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday travelled to Tanzania to seek President Jakaya Kikwete’s support to legitimise his candidacy in the next election. The double standard is breath-taking.

The principal audience for Uhuru’s meeting in Dar was no doubt the new Chief ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who arrived in Kenya yesterday. So let me state right away that we ourselves took the cases to the ICC after Parliament repeatedly rejected President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga’s proposals to create a local tribunal.

Huge disservice

Much more troubling than the double standards employed by Uhuru was the insulting language he used in condemning Annan as a “tourist” for expressing his wise and well-intentioned views.

It was deeply embarrassing for me as a Kenyan to see a divisive presidential campaign condemning the one person who helped keep us together as nation in 2008.

Mr Annan had been in Nairobi to back Kenyans in their desire for a free, fair and lawful election, which alone will sustain the international support which has helped make us the great country we are.

There is no place in our culture for a young man to speak so rudely of a person of such distinction. Dr Annan is one of world’s most highly respected elders and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He and his fellow Eminent African panellist Benjamin Mkapa, Tanzania’s respected former President, were right to alert Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to the folly of a misguided search for the Presidency while being accused of crimes against humanity by the International Community Court.

The two should have heeded this wise counsel from seasoned diplomats and recognised that they were tarnishing not only their own but Kenya’s reputation by seeking the high office while their names are under such a cloud. Their running is a huge disservice to Kenya and they should have long ago announced that they would not vie for high office.

Instead of listening to such advice, Uhuru insulted Mr Annan! I must apologise on behalf of all peace-loving Kenyans to Mr Annan for this disgraceful attack.

Every Kenyan knows the crucial role Kofi Annan and his team played in bringing us back from an abyss from which we could never have climbed back on our own.

Having watched the chaos that has devastated virtually all our neighbouring countries, Kenyans know how amazingly lucky we were to get the international assistance that helped prevent the brutal death toll of over a thousand from spiralling totally out of control and reach figures of tens or even hundreds of thousands, as happened in each of the crises in South Sudan, Somalia, DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

Misguided search

It is a tribute to Kenyans that the international community cared so much for us in 2008, and still does.

Kenyans have hope once again about a great future because of the leadership Dr Annan brought to bear in formulating our peace plan in 2008.

The shared power and coalition he gave us, despite its many weaknesses, ensured peace and set the country on the path of urgently-needed reforms, including the new Constitution.

The level playing field that emerged out of the Annan-led reforms are now being seen by some aspirants as an impediment to their misguided search for power.

It is too late in the day to pander the propaganda that Annan came to impose a solution now or in 2008.

It was his distinguished record of diplomatic skills and service to humanity at the highest level that allowed him to mediate with our leaders, and also leverage support of our key international partners.

For that peace, he put pressure not just on Kibaki but also Raila to compromise, as revealed in his just-published memoirs.

Immense gratitude

While we have made great progress since those days, some current political developments are raising fears among Kenyans that the next election might again be flawed.

That would pitch Kenya into a much greater darkness than happened in 2008.

Everyone with a stake in Kenya should do everything in their power to ensure that that does not happen.

Uhuru and Ruto should contribute to this goal by announcing they will not run while under an ICC indictment. That would earn them immense gratitude from all Kenyans for having removed the major source of tension in this election.

The writer was a long serving Attorney-General and Justice Minister under Presidents Kenyatta and Moi.

 


 

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