Thursday, January 31, 2008
KENYA: A RAY OF HOPE!
Annan team pledges to end violence in 7 days!
Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE and PATRICK NZIOKA
Publication Date: 2/1/2008
The Government and ODM negotiators Thursday gave hope to millions of Kenyans deeply hit by a political crisis by agreeing that the ongoing violence must end in seven days.
The talks are expected to be boosted Friday by the arrival of United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to offer support to his predecessor, Mr Kofi Annan, who is leading the mediation process.
The two teams will today decide on a proposal to bring on board former African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Cyril Ramaphosa as the chief mediator of the talks.
The six-member team, which will henceforth be called the Kenya National Dialogue Team, emerged from their inaugural meeting chaired by Mr Annan beaming with optimism at progress of the talks.
In a joint statement, MPs Mutula Kilonzo on the Government side and William Ruto of the ODM team were optimistic that a peaceful solution to the political crisis would be arrived at sooner than later.
Said Mr Kilonzo, the Mbooni MP: “The country would be amazed by the speed with which this committee has deliberated on the issues today (Thursday). The committee was discussing the agenda and most of the things discussed have been agreeable.”
Mr Ruto, the ODM Pentagon member, said the committee was determined to go through the issues placed before them by the Annan team with a view to striking a peace deal.
“We are determined to get a solution to the problems facing this country.
We have covered a lot of ground, which is a positive development. A peaceful solution is likely to emerge and you can be sure that nothing will derail us,” he said.
The MP urged Kenyans and the international community to support the committee in its efforts to find a solution to the crisis whose subsequent violence has led to the death of more than 850 people.
Speaking after adjourning the session following the gunning down of Ainamoi MP David Kimutai Too in Eldoret, Mr Annan said he was happy with the pace at which the two teams had started the talks, which he described as “constructive”.
“The committee has demonstrated that it is committed to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. We know Kenyans are waiting for results but I would urge that we give these leaders time as they have shown that they can work in reasonable time to resolve the matter before them,” he said.
The Government and ODM appointed their negotiators following a request on Sunday by Mr Annan and his team, which is made up of former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa and Mrs Graca Machel to take the mediation process into the second stage of talks to end the crisis.
The Government named Mr Kilonzo and Cabinet ministers Martha Karua and Sam Ongeri while ODM settled on Mr Ruto, presidential running mate Musalia Mudavadi and Aldai MP Sally Kosgei.
However, the shooting to death of Mr Too appeared to have highlighted the urgency of ending the violence, which Mr Annan stressed has to stop.
However, police described Mr Too’s killing as a crime of passion, saying he was involved in a love triangle. “The violence must stop. There is no reason whatsoever for anyone to take the law into their hands. The Government must move quickly to investigate the matter and bring those involved to justice,” he said.
Mr Ruto and Mr Kilonzo agreed with the position of the former UN boss and called on Kenyans to stop killing each other because their leaders were working on a solution to the crisis.
“The solution to the problem is in this room (the meeting room at Serena Hotel) and we should be given an opportunity to work on peace,” Mr Kilonzo said.
Mr Ruto said the violence would not stop the committee from achieving its target.
“Nothing will derail us; we shall stay the course to find a lasting solution,” he said.
It later emerged that the committee had set for themselves a period of seven days to end the violence and intensify the humanitarian assistance to the internally displaced people who were in camps, churches and at police stations.
End the crisis
It is understood that Mr Annan said the biggest danger to the mediation was the spiralling violence, which had to be stopped.
An end to violence was one of the four items on the agenda that was set for negotiations by the Annan team.
We also learnt that the committee agreed with the agenda that was set and would Friday start going through the proposals by the mediation team on how to solve each item.
The items were immediate action to stop the violence, restoration of fundamental rights and liberties of Kenyans; and immediate measures to tackle the humanitarian crisis, settlement of internally displaced people and promotion of national healing and reconciliation.
The third item on the agenda was how to overcome the current political crisis, which, he observed, was precipitated by issues of power and functionality of institutions.
The Annan team has proposed “some form of power sharing” as a solution to the Presidential elections dispute. He has also suggested review of the Constitution and electoral laws to avoid similar occurrences in future.
The fourth item on the agenda involves long-term issues focusing on land reforms, tackling poverty, widespread inequality and regional imbalances, unemployment and national cohesion.
Both sides have handed in their responses to the proposals with ODM calling for a forensic audit into the prevailing circumstance before and after the elections with a view to finding out whether a free and fair poll was possible.
They also want President Kibaki to accept that he lost the elections to Mr Odinga and promptly resign from office to pave way for a rerun of the Presidential elections.
They also floated as an option formation of an interim government — to include both PNU and ODM — as the country prepares for fresh elections.
The Government has countered that President Kibaki validly won the elections, was constitutionally sworn in and has formed a legitimate Government.
They also question the failure by the ODM camp to move to court to challenge his re-election saying only courts of law — as stipulated in the Constitution — can declare that the President was illegally in office.
The Kibaki team, it is said, has dismissed the proposal of power-sharing saying they cannot sit in the same government with ODM leaders it claims are behind the killings.
On Thursday, sources closer to the talks said the committee debated the possibility of Mr Ramaphosa taking charge as the chief mediator because Mr Annan would be in and out of the country.
The proposal by Mr Annan, was backed by the ODM team, but opposed by the Government side on grounds that there would be a conflict of interest because the former ANC secretary-general had business links with some ODM leaders.
Nevertheless, it was said that Mr Ramaphosa would jet in Friday in readiness for the task ahead of him.