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Kenyans Hopeful Rice Visit Would Help Resolve Post-Election Crisis

Some Kenyans are reportedly hopeful that the expected visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the country would help resolve the country’s ongoing political crisis. This comes after main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) accused embattled President Mwai Kibaki’s negotiating team of a lackadaisical approach, which the opposition claims is frustrating any chance of finding a lasting solution to the political crisis. The talks, mediated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, aim to resolve the political crisis resulting from the December 27 disputed presidential election, which the opposition claimed President Kibaki rigged.

Mustapha Ali is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Rice’s arrival would give a significant boost to the ongoing talks between the government and the opposition.

“One of the parties in this mediation process is not very keen on the mediation process itself. And I think the U. S. realizes that it is important that Kofi Annan’s team is helped, it’s bolstered not in the real sense of joining the mediation itself, but the world is watching and that is why it’s sending the U. S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,” Ali noted.

He said Kenyans are hopeful about the prospects of Rice’s arrival.

“Kenyans are happy that it is getting this kind of attention from the international community. And the general public is waiting and are happy with the amount of pressure piled on both sides by the international community and also internally. So, with Condoleezza Rice arrival here in Kenya with majority of Kenyans, it is an added boost to the whole mediation process, and are happy about it,” he said.

Ali said President Kibaki’s government has not really shown good faith in the ongoing talks with the opposition.

“I think the government is just playing by the script. The government has in fact hired some technocrats and experts in mediation from the University of Nairobi who play by the script, oh you cannot negotiate from a power of weakness, and you must always negotiate from the power of strength. And so its been holding on to the position in fact that it has been coming with even though the Kibaki administration has agreed that yes that there is a problem. They are still unwilling to share power, they seem not to be open to a grand coalition with the ODM, and this is what the opposition ODM has proposed that there is a problem and that there must be a grand coalition that would last for a period of about two years after which fresh elections can be called. And within the two years whereby they would have the grand coalition, and they can look at the constitutional issues they need to enact before the have another the election,” he said.

Ali said the arrival of the U. S Secretary of State would signal to President Kibaki’s government about the seriousness of the international community of the need to resolve the country’s crisis.

“I think it will increase, it will pile up the pressure on the government side. The pressure has been very high. Yesterday, the United Kingdom’s ambassador said that Her Majesty’s government does not recognize Kibaki’s government. And that sent some kind of thunderbolt to the government,” Ali pointed out.

Meanwhile, both the government and the opposition have reportedly agreed Thursday to write a new constitution, which political observers say would pave the way for power-sharing as part of a deal aimed at ending the post-election violence that is threatening the country’ stability.