Annan pleads for grand coalition
Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE
13. February 2008
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Tuesday hinted at a grand
coalition government to end Kenya’s post election crisis, but the
move was immediately challenged by the Government.
Mr Annan said the tradition all over the world was to join the two
sides in the conflict in one government to enact reforms that will
pave the way for free and fair polls.
“A coalition government is an open option when a country is in a
crisis and right now we are faced with a serious political crisis.
The two sides come together and commit to sort out issues such as
constitutional reforms and then organise an election,” he told MPs
during an informal sitting at Old Parliament Chambers.
But the statement was immediately challenged by the Government,
with Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua, who
is the team leader, saying a coalition government had neither been
discussed nor agreed on at the talks.
“My team is alarmed at some serious inaccurate statement made by
Your Excellency at the briefing of parliamentarians today. Namely
you stated that ‘the dialogue team had agreed to have a
transitional government for two years after which we shall hold
Presidential elections’ which position has not been discussed or
agreed upon,” Ms Karua told Mr Annan.
The Government summoned its MPs to a Parliamentary Group Meeting,
chaired by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to discuss Mr Annan’s
Mr Musyoka later said the Government side had only proposed
establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission,
committee to investigate the truth behind the 2007 General
Election, among others as a way to unlock the crisis.
More than 1,000 people have died as a result of the disputed
Presidential election and more than 350,000 displaced in six weeks
Meanwhile, President George W. Bush and UN secretary-general Ban
Ki-moon will discuss Kenya’s post-election crisis in Washington on
In Nairobi, Mr Annan asked leaders to cast aside their partisan
interests to reach an acceptable decision.
Tradition the world over, he told MPs at special Kamukunji called
to brief them on the status of the mediation process, was to join
the two sides in the conflict in one government to enact reforms
that will pave the way for free and fair polls.
He went on: “The country is deeply divided because of the
contested election results and our duty is to bring the parties
together to work closely to heal the underlying problems.’’
However, Government MPs said that they had been informed by their
representatives at the talks that they were yet to agree on a
coalition of PNU and ODM as the political cure to the crisis.
A member of the Government team at the talks, Mbooni MP Mutula
Kilonzo, told reporters that some of the issues which Mr Annan had
referred to had not been agreed by the mediation team.
“Some of the things the chairman has announced have not been
agreed upon but we are on top of things and we will continue
negotiating. But we cannot negotiate under pressure because all
negotiations are based on principles. The dialogue process is not
about creating jobs for people and I am genuinely interested in
peace,” he said.
Government MPs immediately went into a parliamentary group meeting
at County Hall to discuss the matter while the mediation team
retreated to a secret location to finalise the deal. They rejected
the proposals of a coalition government and elections after two
Guiding the mediation
Mr Annan, former South Africa First Lady Graca Machel and former
Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa are guiding the mediation talks
to which Government and ODM appointed four representatives each.
The Government is represented by Cabinet ministers Martha Karua,
Sam Ongeri, Moses Wetang’ula and Mr Kilonzo while the ODM
delegation is made up of MPs Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Sally
Kosgei and James Orengo.
During the meeting Tuesday, Mr Annan took the MPs through the
steps they have covered in the mediation process among them
meeting President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga, visits to
affected areas in Molo and Cherangany and the status of the talks.
He said they had explored the options of Presidential vote
re-tallying, re-counting, a re-run of the elections and immediate
polls and come to a conclusion that the only viable solution to
the crisis was a political settlement.
“All the options could only give us a quick fix to the problem but
could not address the truth that we were looking for and we
therefore agreed on a political solution which could involve
bringing the parties together,” he said.
Mr Annan made it clear that the solution to the political crisis
would not hold until the underlying problems had been resolved. He
said that an independent review committee to investigate the flaws
in the Presidential elections had been agreed upon and would be
established. “We cannot afford to sweep matters under the carpet
and that is why we have agreed to establish an independent review
committee whose findings would improve the electoral process,” he
That was why they had suggested a truth, justice and
reconciliation committee, agreed on the safe resettlement of
internally displaced people and a team from the UN Human Rights
Commission to investigate those behind the violence and make
public its report, Mr Annan said.
“The measures that the report recommends should be acted upon,” he
Mr Annan said a raft of Constitutional, legal and institutional
reforms would be required to be enacted by Parliament after the
deal had been struck and urged MPs to work together to ensure the
new laws come into effect. “You will need to work together on
these reforms as a Parliament. We appealed to President Kibaki and
Mr Odinga on Friday to work together to heal the country and you
share in that responsibility. You cannot afford to fail,” he said.
He said that the mediation team was expected to conclude a deal on
the political solution by the end of the week and asked MPs to
pacify their constituents.
“Some of the resolutions will need a legislative agenda and we
will expect you to expedite your work and also engage your
constituents so that they can stop the violence and accept the
resolutions,” he said.
Earlier, Mrs Machel said the crisis facing Kenya was political and
not ethnic as some people were trying to portray it. “This is a
political crisis that requires a political solution and we are
here with the mandate of the African Union to show concern, care,
feel the pain, and insist on a peaceful resolution,” she said.
Speaking as a mother, she said that she felt for the children who
were no longer going to school and were now desolate in camps, the
mothers who could not take care of their children and urged MPs to
ensure that the violence ends.
“Parliament has the role to redefine a common place; a common
ground where every Kenyan has room regardless of tribe or party
affiliation,” she said.
As the mediation team announced a news blackout for the next 48 to
72 hours, it was clear the two sides were deeply divided on the
political solution. While ODM were pushing for a joint government
with an executive prime minister, the Government was adamant that
their rivals should retain the opposition slot until the next