48 hours later…and no deal yet
(No, not only 48 hours - it is actually 48 days after hell
broke loose and nothing has been achieved until now!)
February 15, 2008
By Ben Agina, David Ohito, Alex Ndegwa and Agencies
Talks on power-sharing were suspended after an intense,
energy-sapping 48 hours during which the creation of an executive
premier’s post and a split down the middle of Cabinet slots
between PNU and ODM strongly featured.
But the proverbial white smoke signalling that a deal had been
struck wouldn’t be spewing out of the chimney just yet.
Reports, largely conflicting, indicated that the discussions on
the sensitive power-sharing deal may have turned acrimonious,
forcing an adjournment to allow the mediators to consult with the
chief protagonists, President Kibaki and ODM leader Mr Raila
Details of what was agreed so far — if at all — would be made
public Friday by lead mediator Dr Kofi Annan, who stayed behind at
the exclusive resort in the Tsavo, which was the venue of the
talks, as the Party of the National Unity (PNU) and Orange
Democratic Movement (ODM) teams flew back to Nairobi in the same
A spokesman for the Panel of Eminent African Persons leading the
search for a political settlement out of the post-election crisis
hinted at an agreement whose details are to be made public later
"Mr Annan will make available the text of the agreement signed
today between the parties," Mr Nasser Ega-Musa said in a dispatch
relayed by SMS.
Annan, who sits in the panel with Mrs Graca Machel, South Africa’s
former First Lady, and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa
will make the announcement at 5pm Friday. The talks resume on
On the broader agenda, though, the teams are said to have covered
considerable ground but the talks were understood to have run into
a gridlock when the finer details of the power-sharing arrangement
were put on the table.
Annan had previously said he hoped to reach a final political
agreement by this week.
Meanwhile, Kenya remained on the international spotlight.
US President George Bush, who begins a seven-day visit to Africa,
three of them in Tanzania, will be watching the unfolding events
from across the borders.
Bush was on Thursday quoted saying he had asked Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice to come to Kenya with a message to the leaders
that there must be a full return to democracy.
"In Kenya we’re backing the efforts of former UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan to end the crisis," Bush said in a speech on Africa.
"And when we’re on the continent I’ve asked Condi Rice ... to
travel to Kenya to support the work of the former
secretary-general and to deliver a message directly to Kenya’s
leaders and people: there must be an immediate halt to violence,
there must be justice for the victims of abuse and there must be a
full return to democracy," he said.
Mr Stephen Hadley, President Bush’s National Security Adviser,
said Thursday the political crisis is among key concerns of the
"I’m sure Bush will be talking to all the (African) leaders about
Kenya, which is the one, of course, people are concerned about now,"
Hadley said in a press statement posted on the White House website.
"Kenya, is a step back, and we have been very actively engaged to
try and get it on a track for resolution."
On its part, the European Union (EU) again warned it would sever
all trade and bilateral links with Kenya if political leaders did
not move fast to resolve the country’s political crisis.
"The electoral process had a negative impact on the country, and
until there is a willingness in the two opposing factions to work
things out together, it will not be business as usual as regards
EU member countries," Mr Harvey Rouse, the union’s head of
political and trade section in Kenya, said.
He added that investors and tourists’ confidence had greatly been
eroded by the post-election crisis and it was high time it was
Britain, another active participant in the search for a settlement
out of the crisis, defended its envoy to Kenya, Mr Adam Wood, and
reiterated that the UK did not recognise Kibaki’s government as
representing the will of the Kenyan people. UK Foreign Secretary
David Miliband issued the statement.
Mr Wood has come under a blistering attack from Government over
his assertion that Britain did not recognise President Kibaki.
Speaking on arrival at Wilson Airport, Nairobi, Justice minister
Ms Martha Karua said: "Talks are going on well but no agreement
has been reached. Formally we resume on Tuesday."
She added: "We still have high hopes that the talks will yield
fruits for Kenyans. Optimism is there…but optimism is not the same
German deputy Foreign Affairs minister Gernot Erler Thursday night
at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, made a presentation on his country’s
experience with a grand coalition government, another strong
indicator that the Annan team was exploring the idea.
The German minister on Tuesday took the negotiating teams holed
out in Tsavo through a four-chapter presentation that touched on
principles of a grand coalition, preparation of a coalition
agreement, the role of parliament and conditions for long-term
success of the arrangement.
Gernot, who said Germany had responded to an invitation by Annan,
said he had also furnished both teams with a copy of the German
coalition agreement and its constitution for further scrutiny.
He explained that Germany resorted to a grand coalition in 2005
when a bitterly contested election failed to produce an outright
victor between the two major parties.
In the ensuing power-sharing deal, the feuding parties used the
principal of proportionality whereby the strongest party took over
the key positions while the other party scooped the deputy slots.
"The key to the success of a grand coalition is to strike a
balance between the two competing interests and to ensure that
there is no domination of the political arena by any of the
parties. All decisions are made by consensus," he told the teams.
He added: "I told my colleagues that a grand coalition is not
about love for each other but about pragmatism. It’s not easy to
come together after a bruising election campaign so it’s equally
important to have good mechanisms in place."
Thursday night The Standard reliably learnt that discussion in
Tsavo on power sharing started in earnest in the morning, with
both ODM and PNU giving proposals of the kind of grand coalition
However, sources in the meeting at the exclusive Kilaguni Lodge
said the Government gave a counter proposal to what ODM had tabled
before the panel.
ODM is said to have demanded slightly over half of the slots in
the proposed power sharing, staking a claim to 55 per cent of
Cabinet positions and leaving 45 per cent for PNU and fringe
According to sources, ODM had proposed the creation of a post of
executive Prime Minister and two deputies, with the President as
Head of State and the Premier head of government.
But PNU insisted on the retention of the status quo, where the
President remains Head of State and Government and decides who
joins the Cabinet.
It’s at this juncture that a member of the PNU is said to have
sought adjournment to allow further consultations.
Other proposals tabled by ODM included the requirement that the
President and the Premier share executive authority,
proportionality at all levels of government and a balance in
ministerial portfolios. There was also a clause barring the
President from sacking ODM ministers.
PNU proposed that ODM take up Official opposition in Parliament,
pledged to pass constitutional and electoral reforms, fresh polls
after two years and ready to give top government posts to ODM
The ODM team, led by MPs Mr Musalia Mudavadi (Sabatia), Mr William
Ruto Eldoret North), Mr James Orengo (Ugenya) and Dr Sally Kosgei
(Aldai), headed to Pentagon House for a debriefing session with Mr
Raila Odinga and top party officials.
Karua, Foreign Affairs minister Mr Moses Wetangula, and Mbooni MP
Mr Mutula Kilonzo were part of the Government team that arrived
aboard an Air Force plane shared with the ODM team.
ODM ferried its team of consultants among them Prof Peter Wanyande,
Dr Amukoa Anangwe, Rongo MP Mr Dalmas Otieno and liaison person Mr