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Hazy future for mediation talks

NAIROBI, May 23 – Negotiators at the mediation talks on Friday said they would henceforth only engage with the Oluyemi Adeniji-led panel on a need-to-need basis.

Cabinet Minister Martha Karua said the ministerial team had not disengaged from the mediation process but needed to tackle remaining items from a ‘Kenyan perspective’.

“Our continued engagement is necessary but not on a daily basis because to cover those issues we have to consult with Kenyans and with Parliament,” she told reporters outside Serena Hotel, the talks’ hub.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi who chaired the Friday session together with Adeniji’s representatives took the opportunity to make an announcement that the talks cannot solve all Kenya’s problems.

He singled out the long term issues under Agenda Item Four, which include the question of land, a new constitution and historical injustices.

“The issues in relation to Agenda Four are largely tied to what Parliament will legislate. They cannot be resolved as a stand alone item through Serena.”

He singled out the issue of land, which he said cannot be solved through negotiations at the Serena hotel.

“Such matters could only be remedied through broader consultations in a long drawn out process.”
The negotiators assured the public that they were on course with the talks.

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The Friday’s remarks however seem to give support to earlier remarks attributed to Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula that the remainder of the talks can be handled by Kenyans without foreign input.

Addressing a news conference at his office Wetangula said all that remains is the implementation of recommendations made at the talks.

“We finished Agenda Item Four. We signed and published. It was never the wish of (Kofi) Annan to either implement or supervise the implementation. This remains a Kenyan issue,” he defended.

It was all logical and less emotive for Wetangula: “Endless meetings in Serena may be unhelpful; we must take these issues to Parliament.”

But for those who were still at the House of Peace, the Mudavadi-led team were a happy lot having made progress on the assignments given to them by mediators.

The report card read as follows: “We have given them the National Ethnic and Race Relations Bill, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Bill and the concept paper on the new constitution.”

And in about a fortnight, another task would be complete, the Kenya Law Reform Commission together with the negotiators would produce the draft bills on the roadmap to the new constitution.

In a letter to the Chair, they said it was their opinion that the next meeting be made after work on the Constitution and other necessary Bills was complete.

No date was however set for the resumption of the talks.

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