Tuesday, March 4, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
March 3, 2008

Monday morning was the first day Kenyans woke up with the realization that the Annan Peace team had left the country. It had accomplished its primary mission; to bring peace and stability to Kenya even if that peace was temporary. After forty-one days of hard negotiations, the team had finally brokered a signed deal that would eventually return Kenya to the path of tangible democratic process. The deal had literally devolved the imperial powers of the president.

As much as we would love to credit the negotiators from both PNU and ODM for their roles in reaching the agreement, it was however not lost on observers that forty eight hours to the deal, the talks had virtually fallen apart. The situation was so bad that Kofi Annan had to indefinitely suspend the talks and actually tell off the negotiators to their faces that they were incapable of sorting out the mess. The desperation on Annan’s face was not lost on observers and under normal circumstances Annan would have disbanded his team and headed for the airport.

However, being a seasoned diplomat that had gone through so many similar situations in the past, Annan decided that the last resort was to negotiate with Kibaki and Raila directly because the two principals held the key to the success or failure of the talks.

As the 24 hour shuttle diplomacy between Kibaki and Raila was heading to the rocks, with Kibaki digging in in the pretext that any inclusion of ODM into the government would have to be done within the current flawed constitution, it became apparent that what Martha Karua and Moses Wetangula were now proposing afresh were the actual position of their principal.

However, Annan’s team wasn’t going to give up just yet. It still had one more card up its sleeve. He remembered that they were in Kenya to accomplish an international community mission; to find a solution to Kenya’s crisis that ordinary Kenyans desperately wanted. Leaving Kenya at that time would have been like a doctor leaving his patient to die on the operating table and as sure as hell Kenya would have erupted in smoke once more.

The arrival of Jakaya Kikwete for a one day visit that was extended to the next day was a shot in the arm that the Annan team badly needed to achieve a breakthrough. Jakaya Kikwete came to Kenya for the first time since the disputed elections. More interestingly he had never said a word about the disputed results. He came as Kenya’s neighbor and as the new Chairman of the African Union under whose auspices, the Annan team was operating. When he arrived, the talks took a new turn. It was now one on one between the principals in the presence of Annan. By Thursday February 28, 2008, the deal was brokered.

We will never know what really transpired at the Harambee House where the final deal was sealed; but this much we know; the comprehensive power sharing agreement between ODM and PNU was signed in public before the international press on the steps of Harambee House on February 28, 2008.

To give it the weight it needed to be binding to both sides, Kofi Annan and Jakaya Kikwete countersigned it on behalf of the United Nations and the AU respectively.
As Kofi Annan, Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa made their parting statements; ordinary Kenyans were deeply touched and moved. Children sang their songs in praise of the efforts of these truly eminent African personalities. After forty one days of sleepless nights, toiling to find peace for Kenya, it was in order that ordinary folks in this country showed their appreciation in their humble way, through song and tears of happiness.

Let us face it; the three negotiators are not new to Kenya. They have been to this country in the past on specific missions. Kofi was here during the Sudan and Somalia peace agreements. He again visited Kenya soon after retiring from the UN among other occasions. Benjamin Mkapa always came to Kenya on duty during eight years of his presidency. The most memorable one was in December 2001 when he came to Kisumu by road from Dares salaam to join Moi and Museveni in celebrating Kisumu’s a hundred years anniversary. That was when he had the honor to declare Kisumu a city. Graca Machel on the other hand spent three weeks in Kenya in 2005, two of them with her husband Nelson Mandela when she was in charge of Kenya’s APRM process.

These four eminent Africans have done Kenya proud. They have indeed been true friends of our country. The least we can do for them is to make them honorary citizens of Kenya. Is this too much to ask?

Over to you President Emilio Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister designate, Raila Amolo Odinga.