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Annan presses Kenya to arrest instigators of violence

Government urged to take action against those who organized post-election ethnic killings.

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, center, talks to Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki, right, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the capital Nairobi on Oct. 7, 2009. Annan said that International Criminal Court trials are needed for leaders of last year's post-election violence in Kenya alongside a local tribunal for lesser offenders. (Noor Khamis/Reuters)

NAIROBI, Kenya — When Kofi Annan came here in early 2008 to bring an end to the weeks of politically incited violence that followed a disputed election, he could hardly have thought that 20-months later his job would not yet be done.

But Annan is back again pushing for the reforms that were promised as part of the political power-sharing deal that ended the violence.

None of those reforms have so far been implemented. Nor has anyone been brought to justice for the roughly 1,500 deaths that followed the December 2007 elections which Raila Odinga (now prime minister) accused Mwai Kibaki (now president) of stealing.

Pressure for justice is building. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, last week reiterated his intention to prosecute “those most responsible” for the killings. “Kenya will be a world example on managing violence,” Ocampo insisted.

A statement from the prosecutor’s office said: “Decisive consultations between the prosecutor and the Kenyan principals will take place in the coming weeks. Justice will not be delayed.”

Ocampo favors a “three-pronged” approach to justice that would involve the ICC prosecuting the masterminds and worst offenders, a local tribunal prosecuting lower-ranking criminals and a truth commission seeking to resolve the underlying causes of the violence.

The ICC’s involvement came when Annan handed over a secret list of 10 names of the organizers and financiers of the post-election violence compiled by a commission of inquiry led by a Kenyan judge, Philip Waki.

The so-called "Waki envelope" was entrusted to Annan during his last visit to Kenya a year ago. The names have not been revealed but are thought to include some senior government — even cabinet — ministers.

Annan threatened to hand the evidence to the ICC if Kenya’s fractious coalition partners failed to set the wheels of justice in motion by themselves. The Kenyans have gone out of their way to block and delay any progress. Earlier this year a bill to establish a local tribunal, as agreed in the 2008 peace deal, was defeated in parliament.

East Africa’s biggest economy has long been a close trade and security ally of the West and its relevance has increased greatly in recent years as it borders Somalia, a collapsed state that the U.S. fears is becoming a safe haven for Al Qaeda terrorists.