Wednesday, October 7, 2009



By David Ohito

Chief Mediator Kofi Annan met President Kibaki and Prime minister Raila Odinga with the verdict progress on reform was painfully slow.

But they responded by awarding themselves Grade ‘A’ on what has been achieved so far.

Reports from inside the meeting with Annan claimed there was a near standoff between the two main blocs of the coalition. At one point, Annan left the meeting and was not accompanied by the two leaders. Even a much-publicised lunch between him and the two principals was dropped from the day’s agenda.

Annan will, however, meet them again on Wednesday reportedly to discuss how public appointments will be made to "reflect the face of Kenya".

Sources revealed that Kibaki and Raila agreed to have The Hague’s Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo come to Kenya a week after Annan leaves.

This legitimises The Hague’s take-over of cases against those who bear greatest responsibility for post-election violence.

The Government has promised to "accord priority to reconciliation" while leaving the door open to trials at the International Criminal Court.

From left: Ministers Mutula Kilonzo, Moses Wetangula and Beth Mugo when former UN chief Kofi Annan met the Serena team. At right is Justice and Constitutional Affairs Secretary Gichira Kibara. Photo:Collins Kweyu/Standard

It also pledged to finalise constitutional review on time and deal with all contentious issues.

There were no photo sessions at the steps of Harambee House as was the case in February 2008, as Annan strove to convince Kenyans he was making progress in getting Kibaki and Raila to share power.

"It was a tense meeting and at one point ministers shouted at each other trading bitter accusations over the status of reforms," a source at the meeting revealed.

Serena talks

The sessions ran late into the evening as the mediator met with the ministers who sat in the Serena Talks. The discussions with the ministers remained secret.

Annan issued a statement in the evening saying he had "constructive discussions". His spokesperson, Mr Robert Watkinson, said: "Mr Annan welcomes the candid and constructive discussions he has held on Tuesday with a range of stakeholders involved in the Kenyan reform process. He has been encouraged by the commitment expressed by all his interlocutors to fully implement this process, and is looking forward to further fruitful discussions over the next two days."

Watkinson added Annan, who was expected to brief journalists last evening, would only speak to them on Wednesday. By then, he will have met with, among others, religious, civil society and business leaders.

Independent sources said the former UN boss asked questions on criticism of Kibaki was favouring one community in appointments and not consulting Raila or his party.

"The surprise issue Annan raised, and which he said was as important as the reforms is appointments to public office. Annan said anger would continue to build as long as appointments seemed to favour just one community. He said that is the perception at the moment,’’ said a source. "He said a key contributor to the 2008 violence was a perception among Kenyans that this was a Government of one community and nothing has been done to change that perception.’’

But as Kibaki and Raila glorified their achievements a silent war played out in Raila’s party, with some arguing it had not been consulted on the collective position all was well.

They say it was only later in the day that they learnt their party leader actually signed a document through which the President’s office communicated their shared view on Monday morning.

Ahead of schedule

They took the bold step a day after Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said the actual score for the coalition was "90 per cent" and all the reforms agreed to by Kibaki and Raila were either "ongoing" or "ahead of schedule".

The two leaders appeared to indirectly be telling his fears for Kenya in 2012 were either unfounded or without basis.

They also seemed to be rebuffing the international community, led by America’s President Barack Obama, over its intensification of pressure on them to deliver a new constitution.

A statement issued by the Presidential Press Service, which acknowledged Raila’s position as similar to Kibaki’s, gave what the principals called "the factual status of the Reform implementation" as simply "impressive".

Annan must have found it curious the shared opinion against international community by the two leaders only two years ago had no time for each other and had to be forced on each other by the same outsider forces. The mediator was after all last in Kenya a year ago, and on Sunday he told Kenyans he was back to listen to their views and those of their leaders on the reform agenda.

In the morning Annan met Kibaki and Raila, plus some ministers, but in the afternoon, he held a series of meetings with representatives from the Committee of Experts, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the Dialogue Team.

unilateral moves

At a meeting between Government officials with the Serena Team and the Committee on Management of Coalition Affairs Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo was accused of acting as a ‘rogue’ and making unilateral decisions. It was then agreed that henceforth Deputy Prime ministers Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi be mandated to liaise with the committees and report the coalition’s position on the various issues the experts are working on. The two are to report back to the Coalition by Friday.