News 2008


Annan clarifies grand coalition proposal

Daily Nation


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 morning.

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 talks.

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 said.

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.