Thursday, February 28, 2008

Celebrating the deal

Kisumu, the lakeside town that suffered immensely in the post-election violence, erupted in celebrations when the news reached them that a deal was in the offing.

Signing the deal:

We have a deal!

It is hard to describe the mood in the country at the moment. Not even the biggest granary in my village can contain the overwhelming sigh of relief Kenyans breathed when Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga have signed a deal in which they will share power.

While the deal sounds good on the face of it, the challenge remains in getting it to pass thru Parliament. There is still a lot of suspicion, anger and mutual distrust among MPs. At the same time, while the rest of the country was celebrating, I doubt that those who lost their loved ones, those who are displaced and those who lost everything managed any smiles. At the same time, police teargassed Nairobi residents who were apparently shouting ODM! ODM! whilecelebrating the news that a deal would be signed. It tells you that even if you tame a snake, it can still bite you.

The deal is as follows:
The crisis triggered by the 2007 disputed presidential elections has brought to the surface
deep-seated and long-standing divisions within Kenyan society. If left unaddressed, these
divisions threaten the very existence of Kenya as a unified country. The Kenyan people are
now looking to their leaders to ensure that their country will not be lost.
Given the current situation, neither side can realistically govern the country without the
other. There must be real power-sharing to move the country forward and begin the healing
and reconciliation process.
With this agreement, we are stepping forwarding together, as political leaders, to overcome
the current crisis and to set the country on a new path. As partners in a coalition
government, we commit ourselves to work together in good faith as true partners, through
constant consultation and willingness to compromise.
This agreement is designed to create an environment conducive to such a partnership and to
build mutual trust and confidence. It is not about creating positions that reward individuals.
It seeks to enable Kenya’s political leaders to look beyond partisan considerations with a
view to promoting the greater interests of the nation as a whole. It provides the means to
implement a coherent and far-reaching reform agenda, to address the fundamental root
causes of recurrent conflict, and to create a better, more secure, more prosperous Kenya for
To resolve the political crisis, and in the spirit of coalition and partnership, we have agreed to
enact the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, whose provisions have been agreed
upon in their entirety by the parties hereto and a draft copy thereof is appended hereto.
Its key points are:
• There will be a Prime Minister of the Government of Kenya, with authority to
coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the Government
of Kenya.
• The Prime Minister will be an elected member of the National Assembly and the
parliamentary leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, or of a coalition, if
the largest party does not command a majority.
• Each member of the coalition shall nominate one person from the National Assembly to
be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister.
• The Cabinet will consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the
two Deputy Prime Ministers and the other Ministers. The removal of any Minister of
the coalition will be subject to consultation and concurrence in writing by the leaders.
• The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers can only be removed if the National
Assembly passes a motion of no confidence with a majority vote.
• The composition of the coalition government will at all times take into account the
principle of portfolio balance and will reflect their relative parliamentary strength.
• The coalition will be dissolved if the Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or if the parties
agree in writing; or if one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition.
• The National Accord and Reconciliation Act shall be entrenched in the Constitution.
Having agreed on the critical issues above, we will now take this process to Parliament. It will
be convened at the earliest moment to enact these agreements. This will be in the form of an
Act of Parliament and the necessary amendment to the Constitution.
We believe by these steps we can together in the spirit of partnership bring peace and
prosperity back to the people of Kenya who so richly deserve it.
Agreed this date 28 February 2008
________________________ ________________________
Hon. Raila Odinga H.E. President Mwai Kibaki
Orange Democratic Movement Government/Party of National Unity
Witnessed By:
_________________________ _________________________
H.E. Kofi A. Annan H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete
Chairman of the Panel President of the United Republic of
of Eminent African Personalities Tanzania
and Chairman of the African Union

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mayor Potiapata hosts tragicomical talks

In Nairobi it is almost criminal to wear a smile in the streets. How when thousands are homeless, hundreds have been killed and peace nowhere to be found? So when I heard that the city mayor is to be picked by lots, I chuckled very quietly, for it reminded me of my village.

Every Sunday, there was a man dressed in strange colours who would shuffle cards. You put in a little money and he would shuffle them vigorously as your eyes tried to follow the card you wanted. If you predicted correctly which card was where, you won your money back. He was called Potiapata, which is a corruption of 'potea/pata', Kiswahili for win/lose. If Nairobi gets a mayor using this method, forgive me if I call him Mr Potiapata for the sake of my village memories.

Not so far away from City Hall, another game is going on. This time they are shuffling cards holding the whole country. Dr Kofi Annan has been trying for the last two months to get it right. Just when our eyes were about to settle on the ace, one of the ministers on the government side upset the table. Unconfirmed reports say the minister (name and gender withheld), told him he had no business in Kenya since his son had been found selling crude oil from Iraq. As if that was not enough, the unnamed minister told off another top negotiator that a company he was involved with was mining diamonds in DRC "where the violence is worse than ours". The minister then walked out, swagging the rest of the body for all to see the display on the catwalk of arrogance.

It was on that note that the Annan team suspended the talks. Kenya, it would appear, is held hostage by the whims of this minister. Click here for a more sanitised version of that story. I wish we were talking about a loaf of bread. Unfortunately, it is about a whole country of about 37 million people.

Other unconfirmed reports say a relative of the minister's was recently deported back to Kenya. I have no idea if that is true.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Condi, welcome to Kenya!

I hope you are here to tell Kibaki to go home. Things will all be smooth that way, I think.

Bush to send top envoy to Kenya

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Ms Rice is travelling with Mr Bush on his tour of Africa
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to go to Kenya amid efforts to end the violence that erupted after a disputed presidential election.

President George W Bush said Ms Rice would back the mediation efforts led by former
UN chief Kofi Annan.

She would press for an immediate halt to violence, justice for victims, and "a full return to democracy", he said.

At least 1,000 people have been killed and more than 600,000 displaced during Kenya's post-election unrest.

Mr Annan has been pushing for an agreement between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who claimed victory in December's election, and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has argued that the poll was rigged.

Ms Rice will be accompanying President Bush on his trip to the African states of Tanzania, Rwanda, Benin, Ghana and Liberia, which begins on Saturday.

"When we are on the continent, I have asked Condi Rice to travel to Kenya to support the work of the former secretary general and to deliver a message directly to Kenya's leaders," President Bush said.

Bush Agenda for Kenya

Bush will b e visiting Africa from tomorrow. As expected, he has given Kenya a wide berth. This is remarkable considering that he once hosted 'president' Kibaki at the White House some time in 2003. At the time, Kibaki was riding the wave of a popular mandate given by an overwhelming majority of Kenyans. He had taken over from Moi, a veritable African leader of a despotic hue.

Bush will be in Tanzania for four days. He will be in Dar, Arusha and will go to Rwanda. In a few minutes he will be addressing the world on his African trip. Notably, his aides have said he will highlight the need for Kibaki to accept a power-sharing deal with ODM. This is remarkably similar to what former Un boss Kofi Annan said the other day (see blog entry below). … e6j8mf.php
His agenda will also include US-backed efforts to end widespread violence -- which Bush has labeled genocide -- in Sudan's Darfur region, and deadly clashes in Kenya after a disputed December 27 presidential election.

Washington wants to see all parties call for an end to violence; clear the way for humanitarian aid; work out a power-sharing deal to get the government running again; and eventually hold "free and fair elections," said Hadley.

Kibaki and his henchmen have no choice but to accept the deal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PNU attempts to scuttle Annan talks

The govt has thrown a spanner into the works by claiming that the proposals by Annan on a transitional govt were not agreed upon.

Watch the denial here:

Kibaki's allies are famous for breaking promises. That's why Annan has ensured that anything they agree to at the talks is in writing and is signed. The ODM side and Annan say the same things about a transitional govt. How come PNU reads from a different script? Could it be because they are reneging on what they agreed on or just pulling their usual stunts?

It must be noted that the govt side, notably govt smokesman Alfred Mutua, Roads minister John Michuki, Karua and Finance minister Amos Kimunya, made remarks to the effect that Africa Union chairman John Kufuor had come to Kenya for tea and not to mediate the talks between Kibaki's allies and ODM.

Annan is away at some secret location in Kenya with the govt and ODM teams. I bet he has read today's newspapers and listened to what Karua and co had to say. We hope he will respond, especially since Karua is the lead team member for the govt side. Not responding will amount to sweeping a very important issue under the carpet. If I were in his place, I would demand Karua's replacement at the talks.

Is the jocular govt saying Kofi Annan came to Kenya for coffee like they said of Kufuor before him? If Karua is woman enough, she should quit the talks now that she feels cheated by Annan.

What Kenya really needs from the US

Maina Kiai, the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and L. Muthoni Wanyeki, the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, talk about the US govt's reluctance to tell Kibaki off.

You can read the whole article here.

A Deal We Can Live With

Published: February 12, 2008

Nairobi, Kenya

UNTIL December, Kenya was the most stable nation in East Africa. It has long been a willing partner in the Bush administration’s war on terrorism. Yet the United States has mostly stood by as our country has descended into chaos.

More than 800 people have been killed and at least 250,000 driven from their homes since rigged presidential elections on Dec. 27. Two opposition members of Parliament have been gunned down, and human rights defenders have received death threats.

Thankfully, for the first time since the election, there is a glimmer of hope. On Friday, Kofi Annan, who has led an African Union mediation effort, announced that President Mwai Kibaki and his opponent in the presidential election, Raila Odinga, have agreed to negotiate a power-sharing agreement. Levels of tension in the country have already abated.

But Kenya will not be able to take the crucial steps to stability alone. We need sustained international pressure for as long as it takes to get the country back on track. Washington must refrain from simplistic characterizations of the violence as a matter of ethnic cleansing or tribal conflict, when in fact the roots of the problem are political.

To play an effective role, the United States must maintain consistent and strong pressure to ensure that Kenya’s leaders treat the mediation with utmost seriousness. Kenyans welcome American leadership on Kenya at the United Nations Security Council. The recent decision to bar hard-line politicians and their families from entering the United States is another step in the right direction. It appears to have been a decisive factor in prompting the parties to finally sit at the table.

Washington should continue to work in concert with other strong voices, like the European Union, to push for the restoration of democracy in Kenya. Additionally, the personal assets of the hard-liners and the leaders of the violence should be traced and frozen.

Congress should call for the International Republican Institute, an elections-monitoring organization that conducted an exit poll on the presidential vote, to release its findings. Suspicions that the institute has suppressed its results not because they were flawed but because they showed that Mr. Odinga won have fueled mistrust.

Finally, the United States can use another pressure point. It must freeze the millions of dollars of military assistance Kenya receives each year, pending a successful outcome to the negotiations. Some of the security forces benefiting from this aid and equipment have been killing Kenyan civilians with impunity. The United States must not be an accessory to their brutality.

The Annan agreement presents an opportunity for Kenya to step back from the brink of disaster. Kenya can now fix the “winner take all” political system that prompted the recent election rigging, and end the impunity for human rights violations that has dogged our country since independence.

The Annan mediation effort must push the parties to agree to a one- to two-year transitional government, with both sides exercising equal powers. This government’s chief tasks, besides keeping the country running, must be to carry out badly needed constitutional reforms around presidential powers, and to create the conditions for new free and fair elections.

Restructuring the electoral commission, the police and the judiciary is also critical. The perpetrators of the election fraud and the violence must be prosecuted to restore Kenyans’ faith in the power of the vote. Only then can new presidential elections be held.

The current calm must not be mistaken for peace. A critical opportunity will be lost if the mediation effort results only in political horse-trading between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga. Without these critical reforms, the gains made in the last few days will secure only a short-lived truce.

Above all, the United States and the world must ensure that the Kenyan people’s vote is respected. If we cannot uphold our democratic choice, the future of Kenya will be lost.