Kenyan Politicians Discuss
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG
12. Feb. 2008
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Peace talks to end postelection bloodshed in
Kenya moved to a secret location Tuesday for a final push.
Negotiators said the opposition has proposed sharing power with
the government for two years and then holding new elections.
Progress at the talks has given a sense of hope to many Kenyans,
who have seen more than 1,000 people die and some 600,000 flee
their homes in violence that followed the Dec. 27 election. Much
of the upheaval has pitted ethnic groups linked to politicians
against one another.
Negotiators have talked to the media nearly every day - and, on at
least one occasion, said a deal had been struck when it hadn't.
Trying to get them to focus on the task at hand, former U.N. chief
Kofi Annan declared a news blackout and moved the talks to a
secret location outside Nairobi, his office said in a statement.
Annan, who is mediating the talks, "urged the parties not to
discuss issues under negotiations with anyone outside the
negotiating room," the statement said.
Before heading into the sequestered talks, both sides offered a
glimpse of what is on the table.
The opposition proposal includes "forming a broad-based government
that lasts for two years," said William Ruto, an opposition
He said that during the two years of power sharing, the government
should change the constitution and come up with a plan to rebuild
areas devastated by violence. He also suggested a truth and
justice commission to look into land disputes.
Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo confirmed that the
president's party had received the proposal and would debate it
"to see if we can reach an agreement." He told The Associated
Press the constitution gives the president the power to appoint
opposition members to his Cabinet.
The opposition charges that President Mwai Kibaki stole the
election. The government insists the vote was free and fair,
despite heavy criticism from international and domestic observers.
Annan urged legislators to enact laws to resolve the political
turmoil, such as land reform. "You will need to work together to
implement this heavy agenda. Your active involvement across party
lines is necessary," he told a special session of Parliament.
The former U.N. secretary-general said the two parties have agreed
to form an independent commission to examine the electoral
commission, which has faced heavy criticism for certifying
"Let's pull together and get it done," Annan said. "We can't
afford to fail."
The strife has gutted the country's once-booming economy and left
its democratic reputation in tatters.
The ethnic component to the violence, meanwhile, has polarized
Kenyans like never before. In many place, members of some tribes
have been forced to flee their homes and many people are moving to
their group's historic homelands, even if they themselves had
never lived there.
Ruto, the opposition negotiator, said Friday that a power-sharing
deal already had been struck. Annan later called the announcement
premature, although he said the sides had made significant
Despite Ruto's statement, it's unclear where main opposition
leader Raila Odinga, who says the presidency was stolen from him,
stands on the issue. In the past week, he has backed off demands
that Kibaki resign when speaking to reporters in English only to
reiterate them while addressing supporters in Kiswahili, East
Africa's common tongue.