News 2008


Talks reach grand coalition stage

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Dennis Itumbi, AfricaNews reporter in Nairobi, Kenya

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan took his mediation efforts to the Kenyan Parliament saying that the Kenyan dialogue process had struck out all the options, remaining with only one - formation of a Grand Coalition.

" it is the form it will take that we are currently discussing," said Annan in his keynote address to the Kenyan parliament Tuesday morning.

The legislators had gathered under the banner of an informal session popular here as Kamukunji a Swahili word coined in the early 90's to symbolize the informal gatherings held to push for Multi-Party Democracy.

Annan who paid glowing tribute to the panel of eight members - four each from government and opposition describing them as "hardworking, dedicated and conscious of the heavy responsibility Kenyans had put on them."

He then challenged legislators "to look for what unites you (MPs) and not what divides you."

He then went on to describe the achievements by his team which include adoption of measures to end post election violence saying Kenya had gotten into the second week of calm as a result.

He then revealed that the politicians were in the process of forming peace committees at the grassroots.

He particularly hailed the acceptance by both sides to agree to a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation committee headed by foreign experts and an independent committee to probe the issue of the disputed Presidential election.

"It is not easy, it is difficult and complex...a political solution entails bringing the parties together to work and heal the nation," Annan told the Kenyan parliament.

"We are working on various options among them a grand coalition that will break the political deadlock, work together and make constitutional changes before eventually organizing an election," Annan said.

"I am hopeful we will reach a decision this week," said Annan.

He then encouraged the members of the dialogue team, "lets pull together and get the task done, we cannot afford to fail," Said Annan.

He told legislators that, "your role is absolutely crucial since the deal we will reach may require you to amend the constitution and probably enact laws for the sake of Kenya."

Earlier Former South African First lady Graca Machel said "we will heal the wounds of yesterday and also of today...our grandchildren will never experience what we saw yesterday."

" This house must rise to the challenge and be counted as the parliament that helped heal the wounds of this country, that is how this house should go to history," a poetic Machel said in her speech.

on the importance of Kenya in the region she had a phrase from speech laced with deep poetry," We are here because we are Africans, we care and Africa cares...Kenya's pain is Africa's pain, Kenya's success is Africa's success."

Annan has already indicated that he was taking the entire mediation team to a yet to be disclosed location so as to secure a deal in the next two days.