The 7 month journey to peace

August 10, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, August 10 – Respected international negotiator, Prof Oluyemi Adeniji comfortably stepped into former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s shoes and helped to conclude peace talks that sought to find solutions to some of Kenya’s historical injustices and contentious issues, including land ownership.

Though the talks that wound up recently with the conclusion of Agenda Item Four received little media attention – unlike when Agenda three of talks was over and done with – the team of four members each from the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) had something to show for their seven months of deliberations.

The Mediation team, as it was popularly referred to, also included the African Union Panel of Eminent Persons Graca Marcel and Benjamin Mkapa.

PNU had nominated Martha Karua, Sam Ongeri, Moses Wetangula and Mutula Kilonzo as its dialogue team representatives. ODM had seconded Musalia Mudavadi, Sally Kosgei, James Orengo and William Ruto.

When the talks started in January, Annan zeroed in on the four most important areas that could stitch back the Kenyan fabric that had been ripped down the middle.

“We started our work by agreeing an agenda, a road map that would lead hopefully to a stable, equitable, democratic and prosperous Kenya.  A four-point agenda,” Annan had stated.

First on their program was ending the post-election violence, while Agenda Two delved into easing the resultant humanitarian crisis.

This they committed to resolve in 7 – 15 days.

Agenda 1: Measures to End the Violence and Restore Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

Some key agreements made were that those engaged in acts of violence would not be allowed to continue with their acts of impunity. Hence immediate government efforts to demobilise and disband all illegal armed groups and militias began.

Security forces were directed to carry out their duties and responsibilities with complete impartiality without regard for ethnicity or political persuasion.

To ensure freedom of expression, press freedom and freedom of peaceful assembly, the bans on live broadcasts and public gatherings were lifted.

Agenda 2: Immediate Measures to Address the Humanitarian Situation and Promote Reconciliation, Healing and Restoration. 

Some of the key commitments on this item included:

Ensuring a secure environment, particularly for vulnerable groups, including women and children in displaced camps, and enabling the safe return of Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to wherever they choose to go.

The mediators also discussed the establishment of the all-inclusive Reconciliation and Peace building Committees at the grassroots level to foster healing within and among communities. 

Here, weekly progress reports on the implementation of the above would be made to the committee by the relevant parties and institutions.

The Annan team then narrowed its focus to the nerve centre of the talks by discussing Agenda Three on the political crisis occasioned by the disputed presidential elections.

Agenda 3: How to End the Political Crisis.

While this was a difficult issue, the parties worked well together and after close to a month of tough negotiations involving the principals – Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga- the team agreed on a new political dispensation.

“Recognising that there was a serious crisis in the country, a political solution was necessary to promote national reconciliation and unity. It will entail the establishment of a grand coalition government to undertake crucial and long overdue constitutional, electoral and other reforms,” Annan informed an eagerly-waiting nation.

The historic National Accord saw President Kibaki and Raila Odinga sign an agreement that drew reactions from the international community.

While welcoming the power-sharing deal, development partners expressed optimism that it would revive Kenya’s stalled reform agenda to spur economic growth and tackle grand corruption and poverty.

Elsewhere in the country, leaders across the political divide focused their attention on the implications of the agreement entered into by President Kibaki and ODM leader Odinga and how it should be translated into law.

Agenda three also saw the establishment of an Independent Review Committee that was mandated to investigate all aspects of the 2007 presidential election and make findings and recommendations on how to improve the electoral process.

The Committee, chaired by retired South African Judge Johan Kriegler, is currently collecting views across the country.

The Dialogue and reconciliation team then moved on to critical longer term issues under Agenda Item four.

These include land reform, tackling poverty and inequity; addressing transparency, accountability and impunity and supporting equal access to opportunity.

The first step to achieving this was accomplished at the end of the talks.

On whether the recommendations made by the team would be accomplished, Adeniji said: “You will need to work together to implement this heavy agenda.  Your active involvement, across party lines, is necessary.  Without this, the government may be paralysed.”
“The government attaches the greatest importance to the national dialogue resolutions, which will require Parliament’s strong support in the coming months to achieve the goals set,” Ruto said.

Cabinet Minister Mutula Kilonzo stated; “Above all, a secure and stable environment for all Kenyans must be fostered.  It is only in such an atmosphere that real reform and progress can take root, benefiting all people.”

Though a lot has been achieved by the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team, we now have to wait and see if the last and most important Agenda will be fully implemented. Hopefully, it will or we might just find ourselves at the mediation table come 2013.


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