Wednesday, April 09, 2008


By Adam Mynott - BBC News, Nairobi.

Negotiations between the rivals appear to have broken down. There is a much-used saying about Kenya's accord and reconciliation process: "Three steps forward, two steps back." Sometimes it looks more like three steps forward, four steps back.
Certainly the process of forming a grand coalition government, as outlined in the agreement signed by President Mwai Kibaki, the leader of the ruling PNU, and his political rival, Raila Odinga, who heads the opposition ODM, has been slow going.
It now appears to have come to a complete halt.
The two men agreed to put together a unity administration to rescue Kenya from an orgy of killing and violence which claimed more than 1,000 lives and drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in January and February.

Reaching that agreement was very hard going and it needed the finely tuned diplomatic skills of the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to pull it off.
Putting the accord into effect has proved equally difficult.

Fresh unrest broke out amid the deadlock. President Kibaki met Mr Odinga frequently in the fortnight running up to Thursday 3 April.
Both parties had an idea of how the administration should be divided in order to represent an equal share-out of power.
Mr Odinga already felt he had conceded much by abandoning his claim on the presidency, which he claims was stolen from him by vote-rigging in December.
But he says he was prepared to enter negotiations on the make-up of a government prepared to make concessions.
President Kibaki and the PNU said they would act in the interests of Kenya's people, who had shown much patience while the leaders tried to sort out the country's political future.

Negotiations were difficult.
Cabinet portfolios were traded and both the ODM and PNU announced on Thursday 3 April that agreement had been reached.
Mr Odinga said he was prepared to let the PNU have the key cabinet posts of finance and security but wanted, in exchange, foreign affairs, energy, cabinet affairs, local government and transport.
A meeting was scheduled for Sunday 6 April that, it was hoped, would seal the deal.

ODM MPs: 102
PNU MPs: 46
Pro-ODM MPs: 5
Pro-PNU MPs: 61
Vacant seats: 6
Difficult tasks await MPs
Q&A: Power-sharing pact
But on Saturday, President Kibaki's office circulated a document which the ODM claims took in virtually none of the points agreed two days earlier.
This precipitated an inexorable process of blame, claim and counter-claim, which culminated in both leaders making public statements, aired on nationwide television, claiming they had been let down by each other.
The ODM argues that the PNU has never shown any signs of wanting to engage with the real meaning of power-sharing.
Mr Kibaki and his followers deny this is true, but whatever the facts, the president had manoeuvred himself into a difficult position.
In January, soon after being sworn in as president, he had named a partial administration of 17 cabinet members from among his followers.
This left 17 empty cabinet seats, but they were, with exception of the health portfolio, a collection of minor cabinet posts.
So when it came to announcing a new cabinet of national unity with an equal distribution of power, President Kibaki was faced with the prospect of having to sack some of his closest allies from cabinet seats he had given them just weeks earlier.
Both men have said they want to sort out their differences and move the process forward.
Both men have had calls from the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who visited Kenya a few weeks ago, urging them to act on behalf of the country and its people.
But politicians in Kenya do not have much of a track record when it comes to putting the people first.



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