Monday, February 25, 2008


The much a waited Annan-mediation talks aimed at ending Kenya's current crisis ran into a firewall/brick wall Monday (02/25/2008).

Negotiators from both sides said Mr. Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Raila Odinga must now make the hard decisions on sharing power themselves. The negotiating teams had met early on Monday to try to finalize agreement on ending post-election crisis.

While ODM deadline to resume street protests expires on Wednesday. The PNU-government had agreed in "principle" to create a prime minister's post and was reported after last week's meetings, but it appears the parties are split on the PM's powers, sharing of ministries and the possibility of a new election in two years or sooner.

By early monday afternoon, both sides said they were unable to agree and had to push the decisions up to their bosses through mediator Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary general. "We have isolated a number of items that require our chairman's consultations with our principals,"Mr. Mutula Kilonzo told reporters. While Mr. William Ruto of ODM said it was time Kibaki and Odinga "rolled in their influence". "On many of the issues that are outstanding, we are unable to agree, so they have been referred to the principals in the hope that they enjoy greater leverage and can be able to thrash out those issues," Ruto said. Annan confirmed the decision.

The crisis over Kibaki's disputed re-election, the worst since independence in 1963, has hurt Kenya's image as a stable democracy and prosperous trade and tourism hub. It has laid bare rifts over land, wealth and tribes that were born under British colonial rule and since exacerbated by politicians. In the hope of addressing the long-held grievances and improving Kenya's institutions, revising Kenya's 45-year-old constitution has come to the fore.

Both sides have agreed on the need for changes to the constitution, which gives immense powers to the president and which analysts say contributes to a divisive winner-take-all mentality at election time. Annan wants an immediate political settlement before deeper negotiations over the constitution, with rights groups warning that ethnic militias are regrouping ahead of the renewed protest threat.

In the face of a rigged Dec. 27 election, ODM has proposed a powerful premier's post and a 50-50 split in the cabinet. Kibaki says he won fairly and accuses the ODM of instigating riots and ethnic violence instead of following Kenya's legal avenues to challenge an election.

Mr. Kibaki also wants any changes to be made under Kenya's current constitution. Majority of Kenyans want a quick truthful and a just end to the two-month-old crisis.

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