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Annan urges Kenya constitutional reform before next election cycle

[JURIST] Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Sunday called for constitutional reform in Kenya before the next electoral cycle begins in 18 months. In addition to pressing for constitutional reform, Annan also said there was need for police and judicial reform. Annan's statements came during a trip to Kenya to monitor the progress of the peace deal he helped broker that resulted in a coalition government after the 2007 presidential election [JURIST report], which resulted in violent protests that left about 1,500 dead. Annan's trip comes as the US government has threatened prominent Kenyan officials with travel bans [Daily Nation report] if the pace of reform does not improve. The trip also closely follows an announcement by International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that the ICC will prosecute [JURIST report] the responsible parties for the post-election violence, as the deadline for Kenya to establish an appropriate tribunal has lapsed.

In August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called for an independent tribunal [JURIST report] with international support and participation because "the Kenyan judiciary lacks independence," and the necessary reforms announced [transcript] by the Kenyan Cabinet [official website] in late July would be insufficient. Also in July, Moreno-Ocampo received and reviewed a sealed envelope sent to the ICC [JURIST reports] by Annan that contained a list of suspects believed to be responsible for the post-election violence. Earlier this year, the Kenyan parliament rejected [JURIST report] the proposed document that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] and opposition leader Raila Odinga [campaign website] agreed to draft [JURIST report] to establish a new Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2009 [text, PDF], along with a Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill, 2009 [text, PDF] that would have set up a special domestic court to try those allegedly responsible for the post-election violence. Tens of thousands of protesters took to Kenya's streets accusing Kibaki of election fraud after early opinion polls suggested rival Odinga was in the lead.

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