Kenya’s main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says it will stage a demonstration against the meeting of heads of state of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) scheduled to open in Nairobi Wednesday. The opposition says the meeting, organized by embattled President Mwai Kibaki’s government, is a calculated attempt to legitimize itself after stealing the disputed December 27 presidential election. Some political observers say the government showed bad faith in ongoing peace negotiations with the opposition, which could potentially derail the talks.
The talks, spearheaded by the former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan aim to resolve the political crisis, which is blamed for the loss of lives and property. From Nairobi, former deputy information minister Koigi Wamwere tells reporter Peter Clottey that there should not be a power vacuum.
“Obviously one can understand that the ODM views the invitation of the IGAD heads of state to mean some sort of acknowledgement or some kind of recognition of Mr. Kibaki as the president of the country. And they prefer a situation where no one is recognized until the electoral dispute is solved,” Wamwere noted.
He said it would be dangerous for the country if there is no central government to answer to.
“Unfortunately, it is very difficult to have a situation where there is neither a government nor a president, merely because there is an electoral dispute. And here I don’t mean to say that the electoral dispute should not be resolved. It should. This is why we have invited Kofi Annan to come and mediate. Nevertheless, you cannot have a vacuum in governance or in leadership. And even as we fight over legitimacy of the presidency, I think it is very important that we accept that the country continue to have some central authority until the disputed one is removed,” he said.
Wamwere denied the government’s invitation to foreign heads of state to Wednesday’s IGAD meeting undermines ongoing peace negotiations.
“I don’t think it does. It’s like the Africa Union meeting that was held two or three days ago. It was a question of whether the Africa Union would accept that the country must have some form of government or not. A country cannot be without leadership,” Wamwere pointed out.
He reiterated the need to have a government in place as negotiations continue.
“You draw the line between having a government or not having a government. What kind of situation you think we will have if we don’t have a president? The fact that we are having the IGAD heads of state here today doesn’t mean that the disputed election is resolved. It doesn’t t mean that they are coming to crown the president as the legitimate leader of the country. They have come here for some other business. And to say that we should be in a position where there is no president, I think is asking for more chaos than we have,” he said.