How Annan magic worked to seal Kibaki-Raila deal

February 29th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Story by SATURDAY NATION Team: Publication Date: 3/1/2008

Details of the dramatic events leading to the signing of a peace deal that ended two months of Kenya’s political turmoil emerged on Friday as the country sprung back to life.The deal, which took two days of intense diplomacy by chief mediator Kofi Annan and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, was struck after the two protagonists — President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga — ignored the views of hard-liners in their camps to give Kenyans a coalition agreement that would see the Opposition share power with the government.

At an exclusive meeting in Harambee House, both leaders ceded ground to arrive at a power-sharing agreement that created the position of a prime minister who will exercise some authority on government.

Sources said that Mr Annan decided to deal directly with President Kibaki and Mr Odinga after realising that the two may not have been getting accurate briefs on the progress of the negotiations from their teams.

It is not yet clear what may have prompted President Kibaki’s change of heart over his earlier stated stand on the creation of a PM’s post which he had emphasised only hours before the deal was sealed on Thursday.

However, a source close to the President said on Friday: “A time comes when a leader must take the hard decisions on his own and what happened yesterday (Thursday) was one such moment. The President rose above party interests to make a decision for Kenya.”

The revelations came as the peace talks resumed at the Serena Hotel on Friday, but without Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua, who leads the PNU four-member team to the talks.

Her colleague at the talks, Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula said the minister was engaged in another assignment. Other members of the PNU team are Education minister Sam Ongeri and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo.

The ODM team at the talks aimed at resolving the dispute over the December presidential election results is led by the party’s deputy leader Musalia Mudavadi, and MPs William Ruto, Dr Sally Kosgei and James Orengo.

Mr Annan resumed the talks to start work on what is commonly known as Agenda Four on long-term resolutions which includes comprehensive constitutional review within a year.

The Saturday Nation tried to reconstruct the events that led to the peace agreement and established that there may have been outside forces behind the success.

Sources say that last Sunday, two days after suspending the talks, Mr Annan was set to travel to Kampala to meet with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. It is not yet known what he was to discuss with him, but he seems to have decided not to make the trip at the last minute.

It would seem he got a signal that the days ahead would produce a deal. Two days later, President Museveni addressed the East African Legislative Assembly in Arusha, where he said: “In the pre-colonial Uganda there was a joke about one of the clans whose members built a hut but did not leave space for the doorway only to discover the mistake when the house was complete. The recent problems in Kenya, tragic as they were, nevertheless, illustrated this point of short-sighted political architecture.”

Wiggle room

Perhaps he was suggesting that Kenyan politicians, without specifying which ones, were digging themselves into a position in the talks which was leaving them no wiggle room, and that was short sighted.

He then said that Kenya’s crisis, which had caused shortages in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, DRC Congo and some parts of northern Tanzania had shown that the region was interdependent: “Kenya and the concomitant difficulties throughout the whole region have shown that the head cannot be independent of the neck; the neck cannot be independent of the chest; the chest cannot be independent of the abdomen; the abdomen cannot be independent of the limbs; and vice versa. Of course, you can have amputees and cripples. They, however, do not lead a full life. Their potential is diminished to the extent of the loss of parts of their bodies.”

Later the same day, President Kikwete flew to Nairobi to join the Annan mediation effort. When President Kikwete arrived, he assured Kenyans that there would be a deal.

The next morning, President Museveni was addressing an investors’ meeting in Kampala, and confidently told the meeting that President Kikwete was in Nairobi, and the Kenya crisis was going to resolve.

Both President Kikwete and President Museveni seem to have known that a deal was possible, and the Tanzanian leader seems to have brought a message that dramatically broke the deadlock once he met President Kibaki and Mr Odinga. What that message was, remains a mystery.

What is clear though is that the whole process was greatly helped by Mr Annan’s diplomacy of meeting the two principals separately.

Add this to President Kikwete’s persuasion that the PM’s post will not take away the executive powers that President Kibaki enjoys in the Constitution.

Indeed it took the tact of the diplomat of many years, Mr Annan, to move faster than the eight men and women he had been given from PNU and ODM to negotiate to move the talks a notch higher — to Harambee House.

Away from the lieutenants, Mr Kibaki, Mr Odinga, Mr Kikwete, Mr Annan and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa engaged themselves in what is being described as “frank, candid and soul-searching” discussion of the Kenyan political crisis.

It is understood that President Kibaki was initially apprehensive about the creation of the job that would necessitate an amendment to the Constitution, and thereby erode the executive powers he wields under Section 23.

President Kikwete’s role at the highest level of the talks was threefold: First, as the Africa Union chairman his presence was the voice of the continental body that is backed by the European Union, Britain and the US.

Second, Mr Annan needed a president of a country that has a premier, to explain to another president whose country has lived with none for 45 years to understand that it can work.

Feuding principals

Thirdly, as a former Foreign minister of his country he had what it requires in diplomacy to deal with feuding principals and communicate in a language that should not offend either side.

It is understood that President Kikwete brought out the relevant sections in the Tanzanian constitution and showed his counterpart explaining that whatever the ODM was asking for was less powerful than his PM.

What the ODM wanted was for the premier and his two deputies to be recognised under Section 17 of the Constitution which spells out who constitutes the Cabinet so that it includes the new positions.

Then, ODM wanted the powers of the PM to be specified in the Constitution which President Kibaki accepted.

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