Political Crisis in Kenya: Kofi
Tuesday , 12 February 2008
The talks for resolving the current crisis between President Mwai
Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Raila Odinga’s Orange
Democratic Movement (ODM) have been underway with former
Secratary-General Kofi Annan who is acting as a chief mediator.
“The current crisis is a big challenge, but it provides an
opportunity for Kenyan leaders to steer the country to a new level
of stability”, Annan said on Monday at a special session in
parliament. “I sincerely hope we will complete our work by early
next week”, he continued by implying the real progress made in the
The violent crisis had out broke after the presidential elections
held at the end of last December when the former President Kibaki
was declared by the Kenyan Electoral Commission as the winner.
However, the opposition, especially ODM of Odinga, seriously
opposed to the results and claimed that he won the presidential
poll and it was stolen from him by vote rigging.
While explaining the reasons of the current crisis in the country,
many experts have pointed out the ethnicity factor playing as a
major role in determining the election results. Among the others,
Mukoma Wa Ngugi from Pambazuka News claims that on this bitterly
contested election where ethnicity was the deciding factor,
victory from either side was bound to spill into violence. This is
because of the fact that the politics is played along the ethnic
lines in the country. While the president Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu,
received only a few votes in the Luo areas, Raila Odinga, a Luo,
received only a very small percentage of the Kikuyu vote.
This already fragile social environment has been worsened with the
recent experiences of the country under the term of Kibaki from
2002 to 2007. In this period, even though Kenya has scored high
levels of economic growth (over %6 per year), this did not filter
down to the rural poor and the large numbers in the urban ghettos,
as experts argue. Within this environment, Kikuyus, the largest
tribe in the country, have become the main target of the violence
mainly from Luos, the third largest group. In fact, the recent
ethnic violence in Kenya has reminded the dramatic crisis of
Rwanda emerged in mid-1990s.
As a result of such crisis, the UN officials reported that more
than 1.000 people have lost their lives while about 600.000 have
been displaced. The displaced have been living in 300 camps under
poor living conditions.
From early February, the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan has
initiated negotiations between the parties to reach a compromise
for “power sharing agreement”. Currently, experts state, there
exist three important problems to be resolved in the country:
Ending the violence, resolving the humanitarian problems of
displaced people and tackling the ‘political issues’. While the
former two have been proven to be solved between the two sides,
the last one has remained without a comprehensive solution. It is
on the question of the results of elections of December 2007.
On the issue, the two sides continue to hold the same views. While
Kibaki in the African Union Summit claimed that his victory in the
elections was out of question, the opposition leader Odinga argues
that he was a victim of vote rigging. Kofi Annan, on the other
hand, strongly emphasize the importance of reaching a “power
sharing deal” which would mean the strengthening of the opposition
vis a vis the party in the power. Otherwise, experts argue, the
deadlock would not be resolved by another election because it
would simply lead more violence due to the absence of the
guarantee for the two sides to accept the results of the elections.