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Cabinet impasse deters mediation talks

NAIROBI, April 7 – The mediation talks chaired by the former Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Oluyemi Adeniji failed to kick off on Monday, after negotiators representing the Government and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) did not show up for the meeting.

The Kenya Dialogue and Reconciliation Process Deputy Spokesman Jens Laerke said the negotiators were engaged in other meetings, and had sent their apologies.

He told reporters that he was hopeful the talks would resume later this week: “We cannot say for certain their reasons for not attending, but we all know the situation at the moment so they may be preoccupied with something else.”

It is thought the negotiators are engaged in crucial talks over a deadlock on the formation of a coalition Cabinet.

The Dialogue team was set up to find ways of securing peace after a disputed presidential election sparked a wave of violence that saw 1,000 people killed and massive destruction to property and infrastructure.

It consists of MPs Martha Karua, Moses Wetangula, Mutula Kilonzo and Sam Ongeri for the government side, and William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi, James Orengo and Sally Kosgei for ODM.

Laerke said the negotiators were expected to continue working on the composition of various commissions and committees that will look into the post election violence.

“It’s not an easy procedure. To find all the members of committees we have to look at their CVs, find out if they are available or whether they are interested. But it’s a lengthy process with a lot of consultation,” he said.

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The teams were expected to centre on Agenda Item four, which looks into addressing the long term issues of land, poverty, and constitutional review, as well as the formation of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

At the same time, he said the leader of the public inquiry into last year’s disputed elections, South African Retired Justice Christiaan Kriegler, is expected back in the country on Monday afternoon.

Laerke said: “The Independent Review Committee (IREC) has been meeting in the past days with a view of finalising their work plans.”

Members of the IREC are, Lady Justice Imani Daudi Aboud (Tanzania), Dr. Horacio Boneo (Argentina), Professor Marangu M’Marete, Francis Angila Aywa, Catherine Muyeka Mumma and Lucy Kambuni.

The Committee’s mandate is to examine the organisational structure, composition and management systems of the Electoral Commission of Kenya to assess its independence, capacity and functioning during the 2007 election.

It will also investigate vote counting and tallying with special attention to the presidential elections, to assess the integrity of the results and make recommendations for improvements, adjustments or system overhauls.

Since being sworn on March 20, the team has been studying materials relevant to the investigation, developing its work plan and putting together their rules of procedure.

Public hearings scheduled to have begun on March 25, did not take off because the team’s offices at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) had not been fully refurbished.

The team, appointed by President Kibaki last month, will also scrutinise voter education, training, voter registration, logistics, security, vote tabulation, results processing and dispute resolution mechanisms.

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