Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and ex-Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on Monday denied claims that they were meddling in Kenya's affairs. Speaking after meeting Chief Justice Willy Mutunga in Nairobi, Annan said they are friends of Kenya helping in its reform process.
"We have been engaged since 2008. A lot has happened and as we look forward to the next elections, I am sure most Kenyans are hoping for free and fair elections and we as friends and people of goodwill... and there lots of goodwill to the people of Kenya in the outer world would want to see this happen. That is what has kept us engaged in the process over the years, and that is what we are here to encourage as we move towards March 2013," he asserted.
The two said they actively participated in the mediation process and were determined to ensure Kenya succeeds in its efforts to restore its institutions especially through democratic elections. Annan has faced criticism and been told to stop meddling with Kenya's internal affairs by a section of politicians.
The two leaders said they were in the country to observe the framework laid out by various institutions to ensure security, transparency and peace during the election period.
Mutunga assured the two leaders that the Judiciary had seriously considered the elections and was ready to handle any disputes arising.
The two members of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities who arrived in the country on Sunday said they came to observe Kenya's preparedness for the March election.
Together with Graca Machel, teams of the Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity, they negotiated the national accord that facilitated formation of a coalition government after the 2007 disputed presidential poll that resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 people, displacement of 650,000 others and destruction that brought Kenya's economy to its knees.
The teams agreed on four agenda items.
One was an end to the violence and restoration of fundamental rights after the violence. They also resolved that the government should address a humanitarian crisis which included resettlement of internally displaced persons, but some still remain in camps.
Thirdly, the teams set out to resolve the political crisis which came up with the formation of the coalition government.
Lastly, the team agreed on constitutional, legal and institutional reforms which required the government to address poverty, inequality, youth unemployment and land reforms.
Although the country has a new constitution, inequality, unemployment and poverty still remain major challenges.