Former UN chief book reveals petty obstacles that dogged peace deal
3 months ago, 19 Aug 00:06
Former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Anan revealed how he sidestepped a trap set by former President Mwai Kibaki and his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni to validate Party of National Unity (PNU) victory in the botched 2007 presidential polls.
The top diplomat who spent 40 years at the global body detailed this ploy which was hatched as soon as he agreed to mediate between Kibaki and his protagonist, ODM leader, Raila Odinga, following the violence which greeted the announcement of the election results.
“Museveni called me at Serena Hotel where I had just arrived. He said he had a peace plan that both government and opposition were willing to work with. It was based on first accepting the results of the elections. He then asked me to come to State House to meet and discuss the plan,” explains Anan in his autobiography, Interventions: A life in War and Peace, written by Nader Mousavizadeh.
Annan says the ploy had been planned by the two presidents setting him up to go to State House, where his visit would be spin that he had validated the results.
His fears were confirmed when he called Raila who rejected Museveni as a mediator because he was Kibaki’s buddy.
Later after he talked to Kibaki who agreed to meet with Raila, it was difficult to get the two to talk as the opposition leader flatly refused to go to State House arguing this would be interpreted as accepting PNU had won the elections.
He recalls the difficulties under which the two men met at Harambee House and the complexity of getting the two to shake hands as no one was eager to talk.
Even as the reconciliation started on January 29, at a time the country was burning and people were being killed daily, Anan says how he met with representatives of non-governmental organisations, civil societies and churches.
After the initial meeting, it was agreed that Kibaki and Raila would open the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation but the talks were almost scuttled when the Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Muthaura rearranged chairs and brought the special presidential chair.
“This isn’t a presidential meeting, I said softly. I am dealing with two protagonists. Put the chairs back,” Anan told the official.
Ideally, the seats had been arranged that Annan would be in the middle acting as a buffer between Kibaki and Raila. But Amb Mutharua retorted that the arrangement was demeaning the president.
“Uhuru Kenyatta, Kibaki’s minister for local government then chimed from behind Muthaura,” He never goes anywhere in this country without his chair. And always sits in the most prominent position.”
Annan describes these as some of the childish obstacles he had to deal with adding that some leaders did not appreciate the urgency of reconciling the country at a time 60 people had been killed in Rift Valley and there were rumours that PNU politicians were funding members of the dreaded Mungiki group to cause mayhem.
According to the former UN chief two negotiation teams were ...
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