As a measure of the political rollercoaster in Kenya, I will include what I wrote last night, and would have posted this morning. Instead, it’s just wonderful news, as reported by the BBC:
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have reached a deal to end Kenya’s post-poll crisis, ex UN head Kofi Annan says.
“We have come to an agreement of a form of coalition government,” Mr Annan said after a four-hour meeting with them.
He said he could not give any further details as the men were going to consult with their political parties.
Annan says he hopes the agreement will be signed by the end of the day!
As I’ve previously written, Annan’s efforts may have been the final possible preventative against genocide. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the only ever two-time winner of the Nobel Peace Prize; if this agreement holds, and if the rules allow, Annan deserves consideration to be the second.
Here’s what I would have posted:
Kofi Annan suspended Tuesday talks with representatives of Kenya’s government and the opposition, citing a lack of progress in seeking an end to a political crisis over a disputed election.
“Given the way the talks are going and the way mediators are relating to each other I believe it is important that I suspend the negotiations,” Annan told reporters.
The former UN secretary general, who has spent more than a month in Kenya, said he would “take the matter up with President (Mwai) Kibaki and (opposition leader) honourable Raila Odinga.”
“The leaders have to assume their responsibilities and become directly engaged in these talks,” explained Annan, who is trying to convince Kibaki and Odinga — rivals in a December 27 presidential poll — to share power.
If Kibaki and Odinga agree to direct talks, a peaceful resolution would still be possible. It is unknown if they will so agree. According to the Guardian, Britain is not optimistic:
Britain yesterday said that the Kenyan army is now “by far the best option” to stop a sectarian bloodbath as peace talks in Nairobi between the government and opposition were suspended.
The foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mark Malloch-Brown, said that there was a serious risk of renewed bloodshed if talks broke down irrevocably. About a thousand Kenyans have been killed since disputed elections in December and 600,000 have fled their homes after rival gangs, organised largely on ethnic lines, went on the rampage.
The violence has died down recently as the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has brokered negotiations, but he called a pause to the talks yesterday after several fruitless weeks. He said he would now hold direct talks with President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader Raila Odinga.
However, western observers believe that extremists on both sides have used the lull to regroup and prepare for another, and potentially bloodier, bout of violence in Kenya.
“We’re going to have to stop the violence,” Malloch-Brown said. “The Kenyan military is by far the best option. The question is, can the army be brought in in a non-divisive way?”
I don’t see how it can be. The Kenyan military is controlled by Kibaki, and that doesn’t bode for a balanced use of it.
This is a glorious and historic day!