Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai of Kenya said she hopes Kenyans will offer whatever assistance they can to help Zimbabwe deal with its own post-election crisis. She said having gone through its own post-election catastrophe, Kenyans are in a position to know the difficulties that can result from the failure to release election results.
Maathai hoped the African Union would intervene quickly in Zimbabwe so that the country will not suffer the same post-election violence that Kenyans experienced.
Professor Maathai told VOA that Kenyans over the weekend honored former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for his tireless efforts in brokering the peace deal that ended Kenya’s post-election violence.
“We wanted to say thank you to Kofi Annan for the extremely difficult but wonderful work that he and his team of eminent persons were able to do for Kenya at a very difficult time,” Maathai said.
Kenyan political leaders were criticized for their failure to act quickly in forming a power sharing government. Maathai said while some in both President Kibaki’s party and the opposition did not want to share power, for many Kenyans it was the only way to resolve the post-election crisis.
“I think from the very beginning, it was not easy for anybody. Internally we had tried very hard to appeal especially to the government side to extend a hand and allow dialogue to take place between them and the other side because the country was burning. But nobody would move, and it took Kofi Annan and the African Union to move in and persuade them to speak to each other and safe the country. Obviously some people did not want to speak because they did not want to share power. But to many, that was the only way we could stop the violence and the humanitarian crisis that accompanied it,” Maathai said.
The Nobel Peace Laureate hoped Kenyans will offer whatever assistance they can to help Zimbabwe deal with its own post-election crisis.
“I know that some people have come from Zimbabwe and have been in touch with the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister has promised that he will raise this matter in the cabinet. Obviously we would very much like Zimbabwe assisted from external sources because we know that it is very, very difficult for themselves to resolve the crisis before them. So I do hope that Kenya will offer whatever assistance it can, especially now that we ourselves know how difficult that situation can be and the kind of crisis that can be precipitated by the experience of not releasing presidential election results,” she said.
Maathai hoped the African Union would intervene quickly in Zimbabwe so that the country would not suffer the same post-election violence that Kenyans experienced.
“I must say that I am not an insider in the Zimbabwe question, and so I may not be able to assess properly what needs to be done. But what we know is that when there is such an election, results are very, very important, and we know that releasing election results in Africa is quite a problem. So I do hope that the African Union will be quick to intervene and make sure that Zimbabwe does not suffer the kind of violence that we experienced in Kenya,” Maathai said.
She said Africans should learn to solve their own problems rather than always relying on outsiders. At the same time Professor Maathai said it is important for Africans not to protect each other.