The political crisis in Kenya is at the top of the agenda as the African Union holds its summit in Addis Ababa. But what can the AU do at this stage to help resolve the crisis and end the violence?
Herman Hanekom is an independent researcher. From Cape Town, South Africa, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
“The African Union has already appointed the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, as its special mediator in the conflict situation in Kenya. So, basically I think what would happen at this meeting is to bureaucratically formalize it and call upon (President) Kibaki and (opposition leader Raila) Odinga to give their full cooperation to bringing an end to the mayhem existing in Kenya at the moment,” he says.
Despite many calls for an end to the turmoil, it continues. The death toll from the violence is edging close to 1,000. Hanekom says, “What I think happened here is that a political situation that could have been resolved peacefully in a court, following the constitution and rule of law and legal procedures, unfortunately has been overtaken first of all by political expediency and then that was hijacked by tribal animosity. We have various tribes united as one group pitted against another group.”
Hanekom describes it as “calling old accounts to book.” Asked what can be done at this stage, considering the ethnic rivalries, he says, “I cannot see those ethnic differences being tempered unless a political solution can be found between Kibaki, the president suspect, if I may use that term, and Odinga, the opposition (leader). Once the political impasse has been resolved, I think they will have enough clout to bring their various ethnic groups, who support them, into control.”
Hanekom adds, “It’s very clear Kibaki is under grave suspicion that he did not win the elections…which questions his legitimacy. And somewhere along the line a compromise must be found. We have not had insight into the proposals that Annan put on the table yesterday (Wednesday). So, everybody is waiting anxiously and in anticipation to get clarity on that matter.”
He recommends that Kenya follow the example of Tanzania, which conducted elections with little violence and had a change of government. He says in Tanzania, “life goes on and improves on a daily basis.”