Thursday, February 21, 2008


Kenya: Country in Crisis
International Crisis Group (Brussels)

21 February 2008
Posted to the web 21 February 2008


If Kofi Annan’s mediation of Kenya’s still explosive crisis is to succeed, he must not let the parties postpone the tough details of a power-sharing agreement, and he needs continued strong international support.

Kenya in Crisis, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the situation since the contested presidential election results of December 2007 led to the deaths of over 1,000 people and the displacement of some 300,000 others in waves of violence with a serious ethnic character.

African Union-sponsored negotiations between Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU), led by the former UN Secretary-General, have already made progress. The sides are giving some ground and discussing a transitional arrangement .

This could lead to legal and constitutional reforms and a truth, justice and reconciliation commission to assist in healing wounds. But a sustainable settlement must address the particulars of power sharing and economic policies, with targets and timetables, in order to convince the drivers of violence to disarm.

“The mediation cannot afford to delay discussion of the details”, says Gareth Evans, President of Crisis Group. “This is Kenya’s worst political crisis since independence, and unless people see practical results from these talks soon, mass violence could re-erupt”.

Three complementary sets of issues must be addressed at the same time as finalisation of a detailed power-sharing agreement:

-The first are the legal and constitutional reforms needed during the transition period, including a complete overhaul of the electoral framework.
-The second are the economic policies to be implemented during the transition.
-The third are the concrete details of the process to end the violence and to deal with the humanitarian crisis, including the institutional framework and timelines.

Continued international pressure is critical to achieving these objectives. The conditioning of multilateral and bilateral financial help for a negotiated settlement should be reinforced by actual targeted sanctions against spoilers, including a general travel ban and asset freeze against those who support and organise violence or otherwise block the political process. The prospect of making individuals pariahs can be used to encourage concessions in the negotiations and good faith implementation of an agreement.

“The crisis in Kenya reaches far beyond that country”, says Donald Steinberg, Crisis Group Deputy President. “Kenya is the platform for relief operations in Somalia and Sudan, a regional entrepot for trade and investment, and a key anchor for long-term stabilisation of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The quicker a solution to the crisis is found, the better the prospects will be for the entire region”.

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