News 2008


Annan: Deal could be struck in 48-72 hours

February 12, 2008


By Standard Team

Hope for a breakthrough in the crippling political crisis rose Monday night after mediator Kofi Annan announced that a deal could be struck within the next 48 to 72 hours.

In a statement calling for a complete news blackout on progress on the negotiation table, Annan also moved the talks on outstanding political issues to an undisclosed location outside Nairobi "to ensure confidentiality".

Annan also urged the parties to not to discuss issues under negotiations with anyone outside the negotiating room.

In the statement issued by spokesman Mr Nassir Musa, Annan added: "At the appropriate time, the Kenya National Dialogue for Reconciliation Secretariat will issue a statement through the press to announce the outcome of the confidential talks".

This emerged even as all legislators prepared for a special session on the talks this morning, a clear pointer that the House would be the next stop for implementation of any mediated political solution.

The informal session, known in parliamentary parlance as Kamukunji, was convened at the request of Annan team last Friday. In the meeting — seen as critical in clearing another hurdle in the quest to break the impasse — the former United Nations secretary-general and his team of Eminent African Persons will brief members on progress and roles they are expected to play. The National Assembly Speaker, Mr Kenneth Marende, will chair the Kamukunji.

And back at the Nairobi Serena Hotel, Annan pushed the negotiators to abandon their hardline positions and towards a possible power-sharing deal.

At one point in the morning, the former UN chief met the Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement teams separately to push a climbdown from their positions.

Last evening, the details of the proposed power-sharing deal were not forthcoming though indications were that it would involve power sharing in a settlement that could involve reforms on the Constitution.

And curiously, President Kibaki and ODM leader Mr Raila Odinga have been asked not to attend the Kamukunji, convened at the Old Parliament Chambers, understandably so that the MPs can air their views freely.

It is believed that MPs would be asked to be ready to support constitutional reforms to allow the possible sharing of power between the two bitter rivals.

It would also serve to bridge the hostility gap between the two sides and bring them to work together in Parliament when a political solution is finally clinched.

The MPs, who faced off in a bitter swearing-in session last month in which the Speaker was also picked, would this morning be asked to be ready to vote together to accommodate the anticipated changes.

MPs prepare for meeting

The gravity of the session was impressed upon the MPs last evening as both PNU and ODM held separate parliamentary group (PG) meetings where their leaders brought them up to speed on general terms of the expected shared deal and what would be expected of them at today’s session.

Vice-President Mr Kalonzo Musyoka chaired the meeting of PNU and affiliate parties at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, while Raila chaired a similar ODM one at County Hall.

MPs in both PGs were told that the Annan talks wanted to be told what kind of power-sharing deal was in the offing, but the leaders explained that the Annan team would communicate the details later.

Some ODM MPs wanted to know if the deal would follow the lines of the Bomas Draft that proposed the creation of a post of prime minister with executive powers, or the Wako Draft that has a weaker PM.

But sources said the MPs were steered away from that direction and told that the talks were far from the finer details.

Similar sentiments arose at the PNU meeting, where sources said the MPs were steered to discuss only today’s meeting.

MPs in both meetings were asked to behave with decorum and to be civil before Annan and the Speaker.

Last evening, the Speaker met Annan at Serena Hotel and discussed today’s meeting.

Speaking outside the hotel, Marende said all MPs were expected to attend the meeting with an exception of President Kibaki and Raila.

Last week, Annan said he had asked the Speaker to convene an informal session of the House at the earliest opportunity to brief MPs on progress so far.

Senior Deputy Clerk, Mr PG Gichohi, sent out an invitation to all MPs on February 8.

Marende said today’s meeting would also lay the ground for debate on the possible new constitutional dispensation in a bid to end the current political stalemate.

In yesterday’s mediation session, the two negotiating teams agreed to the establishment of an Independent Review Commission that would investigate all aspects of the December 27 presidential elections.

Sources said the Committee would be expected to make findings and give recommendations for a better electoral process.

The committee would be made up of Kenyans and members of the international community well versed in electoral issues.

The members of the committee must command high integrity and be of good professional standing.

The committee is expected to start its work on March 15 and should report it findings within a period of three to six months.

And in the separate morning meetings with Annan, both the PNU and ODM teams gave their views on their possible solutions to a political settlement.

In the PNU team are Cabinet ministers Prof Sam Ongeri, Mr Moses Wetangula and Ms Martha Karua and Mbooni MP Mr Mutula Kilonzo.

On the opposite corner are ODM Pentagon members Mr William Ruto, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and MPs Dr Sally Kosgei and Mr James Orengo.

Annan later informed both teams to bring written proposals to be discussed this morning.

Details on how each negotiating team wanted the political crisis to be discussed were scanty.

However, sources said PNU had again pushed for a recount of the presidential votes, expressing confidence that President Kibaki would win with a majority.

But ODM dismissed the recount, saying the ballot boxes would have been tampered with.

While PNU insisted on a political settlement based along the lines of Government of National Unity, ODM wants a transitional government with an early election.

The party also wants the functions of the State and Government separated.

The hardline positions are expected to melt down after today’s Kamukunji.

And speaking to the Voice of America (VOA), ODM’s Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o said his party would demand a transitional government and elections in six months.

He spoke as the international community continued piling pressure on both sides to agree on a quick settlement.

On Monday, five foreign diplomats warned that any party sabotaging the ongoing talks would earn the wrath of the international community.

"Kenya is a vital country in this region and the international community is not ready to watch it slump into anarchy," said Norwegian Ambassador Ms Hellen Jacobsen.

Jacobsen and four other diplomats — Rolland Hausan (Austria), Tony Musimanga (South Africa), Elizabeth Barbier (France) and Haeticia Van Denassum (the Netherlands) — were visiting the displaced at the Eldoret ASK Showground.

The envoys told Kibaki and Raila to ensure that their parties and supporters were committed to the mediation talks.