Hopes and fears as talks enter
February 4 2008
By Standard Team
Kenyans face the moment of truth this week when the Kofi Annan-led
mediation talks enter the most crucial stage, even as Opposition
leader Mr Raila Odinga called for foreign peacekeepers.
At the heart of the mediation talks is Annanís Agenda Number 4,
which is the most critical and which focuses on the political
crisis touched off by the controversial proclamation of President
Kibaki as the winner of the disputed elections that local,
regional and international observers said was deeply flawed.
It comes amid renewed suspicion between ODM leaders and President
Kibaki over the latterís statement at the African Union Summit in
Christians pray at the Kisima
Cha Neema Church in Mombasa on Sunday. Picture by Andrew
claimed that the opposition planned and executed the
violence after refusing to concede defeat. But Raila shot
back that Kibaki did not have even an iota of evidence to
back his claims and, besides, he was ultimately in charge of
security and had failed to ensure the safety of Kenyans.
As the politicians traded blame, violence continued to
spiral. At the Borabu-Sotik-Bureti border, 10 people were
reportedly killed, bringing to 17 the number of those who
have lost their lives in the past three days.
Also burnt alongside several dozen houses were three schools
- Koiyet Primary and St Ann Academy on the Sotik side of the
border and Ribaita Primary School in Borabu.
In Eldoret, raiders razed another school.
And at Bimbiniet village in Trans
Mara District, raiders armed with assault rifles shot four people
dead yesterday morning.
Calling for foreign troops to be deployed under the command of AU
or United Nations, Raila said Kenya Army personnel being used to
contain civil unrest were not neutral, but were instead serving
The ODM leader said the police force had the capacity to deal with
acts of violence, but were under "wrong orders".
On Sunday, thousands of Kenyans flooded churches to pray for peace,
as the defining week began.
It is the week that the team of international mediators, led by
the former UN Secretary-General, is expected to come up with a
clearer roadmap over the disputed presidential poll.
In Annanís team are former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and
Mrs Graca Machel, the wife of former South African Nobel laureate
and former President, Mr Nelson Mandela.
Negotiating on the PNU side are Justice minister, Ms Martha Karua,
Education minister, Prof Sam Ongeri, and Mbooni MP, Mr Mutula
Kilonzo, while on the ODM side are ODM deputy leader, Mr Musalia
Mudavadi, Pentagon member, Mr William Ruto, Aldai MP, Dr Sally
Kosgei, and lawyer, Mr James Orengo.
Another negotiator arrives
The arrival of tough South African negotiator and respected
political strategist, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, gave the Annan talks a
fresh boost because Kenyans expect the skilled mediator to use his
expertise to build on what the other mediators have so far
The 55-year-old Ramaphosa is among those credited with negotiating
the end of Apartheid in South Africa and midwifing a new
constitution in the early 1990s.
The trained lawyer, trade unionist and politician told The
Standard from his hotel in Nairobi that he would speak to
journalists only after getting his briefing from Annan.
Ramaphosa, however, said on arrival that he was aware of the
daunting task ahead and would use his skills to help find a
solution to the crisis that has left more than 800 Kenyans and
350,000 others displaced and living in inhospitable and squalid
Property worth billions of shillings has been destroyed in the one
month of post-election upheavals.
The Annan team has already zeroed in on the four most important
agenda that divides Kenyans and their leaders across the middle.
The team has discussed Agenda Number One, which touched on ending
violence and there was hope yesterday that things could be getting
Although there were isolated cases of tension in Naivasha, along
the Borabu-Sotik-Bureti borders and the burning of a multi-purpose
learning centre in Eldoret, the country remained relatively
Jamhuri Park was, however, re-opened by the Minister for Special
Programmes to accommodate new arrivals of displaced people from
Despite the setbacks, prayers from across the country, peace
missions by diplomats and politicians, including Raila and
Pentagon member, Mr William Ruto, calmed a previously agitated
Raila told supporters in Kisumu to stop the violence and
destruction of property while diplomats told residents of Naivasha
to cultivate mutual acceptance and co-existence.
There were also more players from the Vatican, where Pope Benedict
XVI expressed hope that a peace deal can end the violence. He
called on Kenyans to work towards restoring normalcy.
When the Annan talks resume this morning, the team will first
focus on disposing of Agenda Number Two which will delve into the
Tomorrow, it will narrow its focus to the nerve centre of the
talks by discussing Agenda Number Three on the political crisis
occasioned by disputed presidential elections described by
observers as seriously flawed.
ODM insists that its candidate, Raila, won the election, but it
was stolen from him. The Government side, however, insists Kibaki
won fair and square.
The settlement of the political crisis is the most fundamental
issue of the talks, and on the table is, among others, the
re-tallying of presidential votes or a re-run.
Talks on the disputed presidential polls may begin this afternoon
depending on how fast the two negotiating teams tackle the agenda
on humanitarian intervention.
Another critical issue is the resettlement of displaced people.
The Standard was reliably informed that one of the negotiating
teams has suggested the formation of an Independent Compensation
Fund, to be managed jointly by ODM and PNU as the surest and
transparent way to resettle the displaced.
"We want those in camps to be given alternative resettlement,"
said a source privy to the goings-on at the talks.
It was also suggested that standards be set on how the camps
should managed as resettlement programmes are worked on.
To underline the importance of the week, Raila was yesterday
optimistic that the countryís destiny would be determined in the
next 10 days.
Speaking in Bondo, he said Kenyaís fate lay in the Annan team, and
cautioned President Kibaki against attempts to manipulate the
outcome of the process.
As the nation hoped for a quick settlement to the crippling crisis,
Vice-President, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, jetted out of the country for
the United Kingdom and the United States to brief the countries on
the state of affairs back home.
Kalonzo, whose party, ODM-Kenya, emerged a distant third in the
elections and has since joined hands with Kibakiís PNU, is
scheduled to meet the Commonwealth Secretary-General, some members
of the House of Commons and "friends of Kenya" in London.
He will then proceed to the US to meet Congressmen and Senators.
In the charm offensive, Kalonzo would try to convince his hosts
not to downsize investments following the discredited elections.
He will also reaffirm the Governmentís commitment to the ongoing
The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, was in
Nairobi last Friday and threw his diplomatic clout behind efforts
to end the month-long violent political standoff.
Ban flew to Nairobi from the AU Summit in Addis Ababa to meet his
predecessor, Annan, to underline the importance of the talks.
African leaders at the African Summit in Addis Ababa called for
urgent action to stop the bloodletting, which has turned one of
the continentís most stable nations into its most pressing crisis.
Ban told the 53-nation AU Summit that the violence in Kenya
threatened to "escalate to catastrophic levels" and called on
President Kibaki and Raila to do everything possible to resolve