Annan clarifies grand coalition
Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE
14. Feb. 2008
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Wednesday said his
statement on a grand coalition to resolve Kenya’s election crisis
was only a proposal for further discussion.
Differences over the issue arose at the first meeting of the
negotiating team during a retreat at the Kilaguni Lodge in the
world-famous Tsavo National Park in Coast Province Wednesday
At the talks, Mr Annan who is leading a team of three eminent
persons, clarified that his statement, which was made during
Tuesday’s informal debate by MPs, represented “his perspective on
the discussions, and did not imply a formal agreement between the
Government and ODM.”
Responding to row
He was responding to the row sparked by his statement which was
challenged by Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha
Karua, who is leading the Government team to the talks.
A statement released by Mr Annan’s spokesman, Mr Nasser Ega-Musa
in Nairobi, said: “ The Chairman’s statement that a ‘grand
coalition’ is a possibility to manage the reform process within a
two-year period represents his perspective on the discussions, and
does not imply a formal agreement between the two parties.” Mr
Annan said that the talks were making good progress and that the
Government and ODM continued to work constructively. Other members
of the panel are former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and
former South African First Lady Graca Machel.
Mr Annan’s statement said: “The Panel was pleased with the open
and frank debate and leadership displayed by Members of Parliament
in the Kamukunji Parliamentary Session Wednesday. The exchange
served to highlight the strong support for the Kenya National
Dialogue and Reconciliation.’’ “Unfortunately,’’ he added, ‘‘it
appears that one of the parties may have misunderstood remarks
made during the Question and Answer period in reference to the
possible ‘grand coalition’ which could oversee reforms within two
years, followed by Presidential elections. This was discussed this
morning with the parties and was clarified.’’
Crucial political solution
As the team went on a retreat to discuss the crucial political
solution to the crisis which has led to the deaths of nearly 1,000
people with 300,000 others displaced, Britain and Switzerland
issued new threats against individuals who might derail the talks.
In separate statements, they talked of barring people who derail
the talks from entering the UK and Switzerland. In other
developments, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK)
executive council admitted that religious leaders took sides
during and after the elections and failed to guide Kenyans.
“The church has remained disunited and its voice swallowed in the
cacophony of those with vested interests,” the umbrella Protestant
religious groups body said in a statement, adding: “We have put in
place measures to enable us to overcome divisive forces and set
off on a new beginning.
Back at the talks, Mr Annan’s remark at the Kamukunji of MPs on
Tuesday, sparked a protest from Government MPs who stated that
they would not accept a transitional government that would bring
on board ODM.
Tradition the world over, Mr Annan 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.’’
Ms Karua wrote a protest letter to Mr Annan stating that they had
not agreed on a coalition government.
“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,” she said.
Ms Karua said that the remark had undermined the Government’s
delegation and demanded that it be discussed when they resume
Meanwhile, the British Foreign Secretary, Mr David Miliband, has
urged leaders to drop their entrenched positions and resolve to
find a way forward through dialogue, negotiation and compromise.
Said Mr Miliband in a statement: “I am encouraged that Annan and
his panel of Eminent Persons have been bringing the parties
together in Kenya to find a way through the post-election crisis.”
The official noted that this was a crucial moment and the UK joins
Kenyans and the international partners in urging leaders to find a
solution to the crisis.
Mr Miliband said now was the time to break the cycle of violence
and to commit to finding political solutions which would address
the underlying issues.
“We urge Kenya’s leaders to turn this crisis into opportunity and
establish the basis for a lasting solution that enhances Kenya’s
stability and increases opportunity for all Kenyans,” the official
At the same time, the Swiss counsellor, Arthur Mattli, said they
support the mediation efforts of the former UN boss, and the panel
of eminent African persons mandated by the AU.