Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's crunch time as Kenyan politicians lose control of Annan mediation

If you thought Karua's tough-talking and PNU's musical chairs were going to scuttle the mediation process, then think again. It is now clear that the process is taking a new turn as the prospect of compromise is diminishing. Ask yourself: why is Condoleeza Rice coming to Nairobi if things are as rosy as Annan's diplo-speak seem to suggest? Why are the UK and Switzerland threatening new sanctions if we're seeing Canaan from afar? With Bush next door in Tanzania and Rice in Nairobi to "to support Annan’s efforts", we can only expect fireworks from Monday.

Ladies and gentlemen, I put it to you that there is no way forward as our politicians have obstinately dug in, and it's time to bring in the big guns. Time for games and tomfoolery is officially over as the process shifts focus from "who stole/won the elections" to "how best to restore peace and order in Kenya". And you think our politicians, who so far have been arrogant to say the least, have any say in the outcome from this point on?

"But we are a sovereign nation", I hear you say. Yes, and No. Yes, because so far, we have "been given" the option to talk it through, and we're just fu*%$@g about. No because the international community, especially the West, will not just sit around and watch another African country fall by the wayside; not after Rwanda and Darfur. Not to mention Kenya's strategic positioning as the gateway to this part of the world, and especially as a major hub in the "war against terror". And then there's the question of Annan's guilt: old Kofi was the only person on earth who could have stopped Rwanda, but he neglected his duty. He won't let it happen again in Kenya. And we all know he has the West wrapped around his little finger.

Starting Monday when Dr. Rice lands in Nairobi, the talks will take on a completely new complexion, I can assure you. Why do you think Bush is coming to Africa? For the tan? This Kenyan problem is far bigger than we think. Looks at his carefully selected itinerary: Tanzania, Rwanda, Benin, Ghana and Liberia. As usual, the American's are passing a very clear and strong message here. If you thought the drama of Kenya's stolen election was dying down, then think again.

Getting back to Annan, I'll now leave you to interpret for yourself what he actually mean and what is scheduled for next week with the complete text of his statement to the press yesterday:

Statement by Dr Kofi Annan on 15-2-2008


Serena Nairobi Hotel, 15 February 2008

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have just returned from 48 hours of intense and fruitful negotiations at a secret location outside of Nairobi, which all of you now know was the Kilaguni Lodge in the Tsavo West Game Reserve.

I want to thank you for letting us work there in peace, even after you discovered where we were.

The parties worked well together during their two days at Kilaguni– often in mixed groups and by themselves – showing their strong commitment to peace and reconciliation in Kenya.

They reached agreement on a range of issues, and narrowed considerably the options for a governance structure.

Some of the points of agreement are:

• The creation of an Independent Review Committee.

• This Committee would be mandated to investigate all aspects of the 2007 Presidential Election and make findings and recommendations to improve the electoral process.

• The Committee will be a non-judicial body made up of Kenyan and non-Kenyan recognized electoral experts of the highest professional standing and personal integrity.

• The Committee will submit its report within 3-6 months and it should be published within 14 days of submission. It should start its work not later than 15 March 2008.

• The findings of the Independent Review Committee must be factored into the comprehensive electoral reforms that are envisaged.

Through the discussion, it became apparent that there is no viable way, either by re-count, re-tally or any other measure, to determine the outcome of the 2007 election in a way that would be expeditious and that would not further divide Kenyan society.

However, the facts have to come out and Kenyans have to know what happened. We agreed that the system must be reformed so that such a crisis never happens again.

The Independent Review Committee will allow for this to take place in an environment of tranquility and transparency, thus contributing to further healing and reconciliation of the country.

We did consider the options of a re-count or re-tally and concluded that:

• A delay of the several months needed for a recount could significantly increase existing tensions and delay resolution of the current crisis, and we recognize that the result of a re-count might not further Kenyan unity.

• A re-tally could not determine the correct result in stations or constituencies where problems or irregularities were identified.

On the need for a political settlement to resolve the current crisis, we agreed on the following:

• Recognizing that there is a serious crisis in the country we concluded that a political settlement is a necessary and effective way to promote national reconciliation and unity.

• We also agree that such a political settlement must be one that reconciles and heals the nation and reflects the best interests of all Kenyans. A political settlement is necessary to manage and implement expeditiously a broad reform agenda and other mechanisms that will address the root causes of the crisis and deepen and broaden Kenyan democratic foundations.

Such reforms and mechanisms will comprise, but are not limited to, the following:
• Comprehensive Constitutional reforms;
• Comprehensive electoral reform – including of the electoral laws, the electoral commission and dispute resolution mechanisms;
• A truth, justice and reconciliation commission;
• Identification and prosecution of perpetrators of violence;
• Respect for human rights;
• Parliamentary reform;
• Police reform;
• Legal and Judicial reforms;
• Commitment to a shared national agenda in Parliament for these reforms;
• Other legislative, structural, political and economic reforms as needed.

On the issue of governance arrangements, the parties discussed the matter intensively and have developed a number of options, on which they have agreed to consult their principals and leadership and come back to continue negotiations on Monday, with the hope that a final conclusion will be reached shortly after that.

This is the only outstanding issue on Agenda Item 3—How to Resolve the Political crisis. In summary, we have defined the reform agenda for a new government and are now discussing the “how” and the mechanisms required for implementation.

While we are making considerable progress on Agenda Item 3, we have also agreed that settlement of the issues in Agenda Item 4—Long-Term Issues and Solutions--are fundamental to a viable long-term solution of the crisis.

The implementation of the following reforms should commence urgently in concert with reforms of Agenda Item 3.

• Consolidating national cohesion and unity;
• Land reform;
• Tackling poverty and inequity, as well as combating regional development imbalances, particularly promoting equal access to opportunity;
• Tackling unemployment, particularly among the youth;
Reform of the Public Service;
Strengthening of anti-corruption laws and public accountability mechanisms;
Reform of Public Finance and Revenue Management Systems and Institutions;
• Addressing issues of accountability and transparency.

The parties agreed that this settlement is not about the sharing of political positions but about addressing the fundamental root causes of recurrent conflict. Therefore, the parties have reaffirmed their commitment to address the issues within Agenda Item 4 quickly and comprehensively.

Milestones and benchmarks for the implementation of the reform agenda will be defined in our continuing discussions.

I know that many of you have been eager to write the headline, “We have a deal” on all the political issues. But I again advise patience. The issues are complex; reaching compromise is difficult. But let me assure you that there is real momentum. We are at the water’s edge and the last difficult and frightening step will be taken. I am confident that, in the interests of Kenya and its people, the parties will show the wisdom, flexibility and foresight to conclude an agreement.

Let me now say a word about my own involvement in this process. [ad lib]

I will now take your questions.

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