Kenya hails Kikwete as Kibaki
pushes peace deal
By Judica Tarimo
07. March 2008
Kenya has hailed the diplomatic techniques President Jakaya
Kikwete used in ending the stalemate over its bloody post-election
crisis as an invaluable home-grown conflict resolution input.
The Kenyan government`s spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, told
journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the President`s
intervention helped the parties to the conflict ``out of a
``President Kikwete came (to Kenya) with a message of hope! A
message of peace! A message that we can make it and strike a deal
as Africans. We really thank Tanzanians for allowing the President
to come to our rescue,`` he said.
Dr Mutua, whose remarks revolved around the recently concluded
negotiations between President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila
Odinga, said the deal ended protracted talks in the wake of the
violence triggered by Kibaki`s disputed re-election.
He said the Kenyan government and Kenyans in general appreciate
Kikwete`s diplomatic intervention because it helped the
negotiators and rival parties move towards a peaceful end to the
Mutua noted further: "We had come to a stalemate." The (peace)
talks were almost suspended and chief mediator former UN secretary
general Kofi Annan and other African personalities assisting him
had already lost hope.
Then President Kikwete came and rescued the situation by
facilitating the successful conclusion of the negotiations and the
striking of an agreeable deal.``
"We are really thankful to President Kikwete and all Tanzanians
for coming to our help when we were in need; Truly, a friend in
need is a friend indeed. I saying thank you very much," he added.
He said Kikwete was a true role model in the Kenyan crisis and his
intervention was clear testimony that long-standing African
problems including political conflicts can be solved by Africans
Kenya has denied reports that foreign influence was used to
pressure the Mwai government to conclude the talks that ended the
There have been reports that African Union Chairman Kikwete, who
played a key role in pushing for signing of the peace pact, went
to the negotiating table with an ultimatum from the US government.
Commenting on the reports yesterday, Dr Mutua said: "It's really
an insult and a show of disrespect to President Kikwete to think
We must respect his valuable contribution to the success of the
He made a personal initiative to help the parties concerned out of
a crisis for the benefit of Kenyans and East Africans. We need to
He added: "It is imperative to appreciate that an African problem
found an African solution. It`s totally wrong and a distortion of
truth to say that President Kikwete went to the negotiation table
with a threatening message from the US. After all, how can you
force conflicting parties to agree on such sensitive issues? It's
He explained that a national peace and reconciliation body has
been formed as part of the Kenyan government's strategy to address
the problems triggered by the crisis and find permanent solutions
In Nairobi, meanwhile, President Mwai Kibaki yesterday
commemorated the 1,000 people killed during his country`s
post-election crisis and called on parliament to enshrine into law
a power-sharing deal intended to keep the peace.
Kibaki, who last week agreed to bring Raila Odinga into a ``grand
coalition`` government, opened Kenya`s 10th parliament with a
minute`s silence first for two slain legislators and then for all
the victims of violence.
He later urged the divided House to set aside partisanship and
enact last week`s political agreement brokered by former UN boss
Kofi Annan in the hope of drawing a line under the darkest moment
in the country's post-independence history.
"Please, succeed. Please, forget the history of what has happened,"
Kibaki (76) said in off-the-cuff comments at the end of his speech.
The President urged legislators to quickly pass legislation that
will let Odinga (63), a former political prisoner who says Kibaki
cheated him of the December 27 presidential vote by fraud, take up
a new post of prime minister.