Annan hails Kenya talks progress – BBC

February 21st, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has announced considerable progress in talks between Kenya’s government and opposition aimed at ending the political crisis.

Talks have been adjourned until Friday, as negotiators consult on a compromise which the BBC’s Adam Mynott in Nairobi says has been largely agreed upon. (more…)

Ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has announced considerable progress in talks between Kenya’s government and opposition aimed at ending the political crisis.

Talks have been adjourned until Friday, as negotiators consult on a compromise which the BBC’s Adam Mynott in Nairobi says has been largely agreed upon.

The deal involves creating a prime minister’s post, which the opposition says would have to have real power.

Some 1,000 people have died in violence since disputed elections in December.

The opposition alleges the poll was rigged.

“I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Annan said after negotiators from President Mwai Kibaki’s government and the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) adjourned their talks on Thursday.

The negotiators are expected to report back with a possible final deal to be signed on Friday.

Power sharing

The prime ministerial post that could be created as a result of the deal is likely to be held by ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Opposition spokesman Salim Lone said he envisaged power being shared by the two sides.

“The most important thing would be that there was a prime minister who actually wielded power, and the president, who would be head of state and would also wield executive power, would not have the authority on his own to dismiss ministers,” Mr Lone said.

None of the details has been confirmed by Kofi Annan’s team, and there have been a number of occasions in the past three weeks when a deal looked close but then disappeared, our correspondent says.

The rivals have agreed in principle on a grand coalition as a solution to the crisis, but discussions had reached deadlock over how it would work in practice.

The creation of a post of prime minister – which does not exist under the current constitution – was one of the opposition’s demands.

Najib Balal, a senior ODM member, told the BBC on Thursday that the opposition would be prepared to accept the post of prime minister provided it carried the necessary authority and power.

Earlier this week, the opposition warned it would launch new mass protests in a week’s time if the talks did not break the political deadlock.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced during the ethnic and political violence that broke out after President Kibaki was declared the winner of December’s presidential election.

The opposition alleges widespread rigging, and international observers said the poll was flawed.

‘Serious obstacles’

The development came as an international think tank warned that further violence could erupt unless a solution to Kenya’s political crisis were found urgently.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said armed groups on both the opposition and government sides were being mobilised for fresh attacks.

The ICG report called for legal, electoral and constitutional reforms and for aid to be conditional on a peaceful result.

The report warned “serious obstacles” to peace remained.

In a BBC interview, the ICG’s Donald Steinberg also warned against reaching a short-term political deal without addressing long-term issues.

He said that at the root of the violence were the tribal divide-and-rule policies of Kenya’s previous ruler, Daniel arap Moi, which had not been addressed under Mr Kibaki.

The report noted that as Kenya is a platform for relief operations in Somalia and Sudan, a haven for many refugees from the region, and a vital trade hub, failure to resolve the crisis would have “severe consequences” for the whole of east Africa and beyond.

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