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Kenya Talks Enter Crucial Stage


Talks between Kenya’s government and the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) enter a crucial stage today after both parties agreed Monday to end the escalated violence that is threatening the country’s stability. Discussion today could focus on the controversial December 27 vote, which the opposition claims was rigged by embattled President Mwai Kibaki. The talks spearheaded by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan aim to resolve the post- election violence blamed for the loss of lives and property. From Nairobi, political analyst Mustapha Ali tells reporter Peter Clottey that Kenyans are fed up with the ongoing violence.

“Today the Kofi Annan mediation begins the most sensitive and what could be a make-or-break session in the mediation that is ongoing between the ODM and the government. The mediation team has already finished the first item that is on the agenda that was regarding the violence. From today they begin to tackle the second issue and that is the contestation in the presidential election,” Ali noted.

He said both the opposition and the government need to compromise in order for a solution to the current political crisis to be found.

“First of all, I think it’ noteworthy that the two groups will stick to their hard-line positions and the Kofi Annan team will have difficulties and they will have to use a lot of tact to move them from positions to interest and then on to need,” he said.

Ali said there are few options available to find a lasting solution for the chaos in the country.

“There are only three options that I can see in this situation, and one is regarding the issues that have been raised. One is re-tallying, and that is almost out of the question with the ODM team as they believe and most Kenyans actually believe that the documentation by ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) has been tampered with. And they cannot trust any documentation that is a report with the Electoral Commission of Kenya. The other choice could be a rerun of the presidential election I think the situation now is too volatile and insecure. I do not think that there could be any worthy election that can be done with the current environment. This leaves the only option, that of power sharing on a fifty-fifty basis,” Ali pointed out.

He said there is need for a solution to be found in the ongoing talks between the government and the opposition.

“It’s difficult to tell, but at the end of the day we will see how the two parties will agree to engage on how to deal with the issues of the stolen presidential election. To be honest with you, we are waiting earnestly, and if they fail, I think the country may just relapse back into violence,” he said.

Ali said Kenyans unanimously are looking for an opportunity for peace.

“What Kenyans do want now is an end to the violence. The violence has reduced in most of the parts of the country, but has increased in one part of the country that is western Kenya. Today more than 10 people were killed and in other areas and talking to people today we realized that it’s now moved to the middle class. Some landlords are evicting tenants who belong to one ethnic community and this is affecting the lives of people here. There is a lot of suspicion between one ethnic group and another, ” Ali said.

Meanwhile at least 10 people were reported dead yesterday in western Kenya as violence between rival ethnic gangs continues.