9 October 2012

Tanzania: Mkapa to Help in Kenyan Poll Preps

The Judiciary became the first government institution to get a clean bill of health from the Panel of Eminent African Personalities. The chairman of ... ( Resource: Former UN Chief Applauds Kenyan Judiciary Reforms )

FORMER president Benjamin Mkapa was expected to arrive in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday for a four-day visit.

Mr Mkapa, who played an important role in mediating peace talks between ODM and PNU at the height of post-poll upheavals in 2008, is visiting the neighbouring country as it prepares to go to the elections.

A statement from the Kofi Annan Foundation said Mkapa will join former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to support Kenyans, as the country steers towards elections.

"The objective of the visit by Mr Annan and Mr Mkapa is to give support and encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country's institutions, as Kenya prepares for an important transition in 2013," reads the statement.

They are visiting in their capacities as members of the African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities and are expected to meet with top government officials, independent and constitutional commissions, the media, business leaders, religious groups and the international community.

The roles of these groups are critical in ensuring a peaceful transition as President Kibaki is set to retire after the polls. It is expected they will discuss the country's preparedness to conduct polls, following doubts that late acquisition of voter registration kits may affect the process.

Biometric Voter Registration kits are expected to arrive in Nairobi from Canada this month to pave way for voter registration, set to begin on November 1.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Issack Hassan has, however, said that everything will go as planned and that the elections will take place on March 4, 2013. Voter registration will run for 30 days.

The visit also comes at a time when the country has witnessed cases of pre-election violence, especially in the Coast region and in Garissa, which is said to have political undertones. In the latest case of violence, Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi's bodyguard was killed in Kilifi while protecting the minister.

Institutions established as part of Agenda Four following the mediated talks headed by Annan, are also in limbo following the expiry of their terms. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission's term expired on September 7 though Parliament has approved an extension.

The commission is crucial in among other things, monitoring hate speech ahead of the polls. The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission is also seeking a nine-month extension, but this has met some opposition in Parliament. At the end of the visit on Thursday, the two will brief the media of their engagements.

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