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Kenya President Kibaki Invites Opposition Leader for Talks


Kenya’s embattled President Mwai Kibaki has formally invited opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) for talks to end the political impasse that is threatening the stability of the country. Kibaki’s invitation followed a decision by opposition leader Odinga to call off nationwide rallies planned for today Tuesday out of respect for the arrival of Ghana’s President and African Union chairman John Kufuor. President Kufuor is going to Kenya to jumpstart talks between President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Basette Buyuka is the news anchor for Kenya’s Nation Television. From the capital, Nairobi, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Kibaki’s invitation is a relief to some Kenyans.

“President Mwai Kibaki just late Monday evening has sent out an invitation to Raila Odinga for talks. Now, those talks are to be held on Friday afternoon at 2:30 pm. The bulleting did not actually give venue for the meeting, but specified that Raila was to be accompanied by five members from the ODM, and the president has also invited members of the clergy to be present at these talks. The bulleting, which was released by the presidential press service clearly says these talks are for dialogue on ending the violence, which has afflicted the country particularly since the election results on 30th December last year,” Buyuka noted.

He said the Ghanaian President who is also the chairman of the African Union (AU) is expected in Kenya to try to calm down the tension between President Kibaki and opposition leader Odinga.

“President john Kufuor, the Ghanaian AU chairman is expected in Nairobi this Tuesday morning. Interestingly, the ODM is really looking forward to this and saying he (President Kufuor) is going to undertake mediation. There were mixed signals from President Kibaki’s camp last week, some senior members of his PNU (Party of National Unity) party suggesting that no, we did not need international mediation, and Kufuor was simply coming as a friend of Kenya. So it remains to be seen what exactly the role Kufuor would be playing. Of course he is the African Union chairman and he would be expressing the sentiments of the AU and the concern regarding the situation in Kenya,” he said.

Although the Ghanaian president is expected to jumpstart the expected talk between President Kibaki and Raila Odinga, Buyuka said there is no guarantee that President Kufuor would be present when the talks begin on Friday.

“Of course he (President Kufuor) is expected to meet both President Kibaki and Raila Odinga. What is not clear however is whether President Kufuor would still be in Kenya on Friday, the day that President Kibaki has set for face to face talks with Raila Odinga. So, we would be watching keenly to hear what transpires as the Ghanaian president hits town later today,” Buyuka pointed out.

He reckoned that former President Daniel Arap Moi has been relatively quiet as violence threatens the stability of the country he once ruled.

“True to an extent, the former president has kept a very low profile. The last time he was actually seen in public was when he was casting his ballot. Last week he did issue a statement through his press secretary and he did express his concern and urged the youth to stop the violence… of course in the run up to the elections he had come out strongly and supported the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. So from that perspective, probably the opposition would not have viewed him as an honest broker going into mediation type of process,” he said.

Meanwhile, a decision is reportedly yet to be made on the venue of the talks between President Kibaki and Raila Odinga, which is scheduled for this Friday.