Kenya: Kibaki-Raila deal possible, says Tutu.

Story by NATION Team 


desmond_tutu.jpgSouth African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu Friday hinted at the possibility of a coalition government as a way of ending Kenya’s political crisis.

Archbishop Desmond, who met President Kibaki at Nairobi State House a day after holding talks with ODM leader Raila Odinga, gave hope for a negotiated settlement between the two parties on the disputed presidential elections.

According to the Archbishop, President Kibaki had indicated his willingness to explore the formation of a coalition government with his rivals.

As he spoke, ODM came up with their own plan which party Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o said could resolve the problem.

The proposal includes the formation of a transitional interim government to take charge of the country for three months and arrange fresh presidential elections.

Diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated settlement to the dispute was boosted with the expected arrival of the US government’s top African envoy in Nairobi on Friday.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer was expected in Kenya last evening.

Ahead of her visit, the American ambassador to Kenya, Mr Michael Ranneberger, held a meeting with President Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

The flurry of diplomatic activity took place against a backdrop of a city coming back to life after days of violent confrontations between police and ODM supporters protesting the outcome of December 27’s presidential elections outcome. The Electoral Commission announced President Kibaki as the winner but the decision was immediately contested by the Orange democratic Party (ODM) whose supporters took to the streets in protest.

The security ring which had been placed around Nairobi City Centre was relaxed overnight allowing free movement of commuter buses, private vehicles and human traffic in and outside the city for the first time since Sunday.

The situation was the same in other major towns and cities in the country such as Kisumu, Eldoret and Kericho where violence has taken place. In Mombasa and Nairobi, there were brief skirmishes between police and some ODM leaders who sought to hold demonstrations but the huge rally planned for Uhuru Park did not take place.

The rally which had been called by ODM for Nairobi’s Uhuru Park failed to take place for the third straight day as police continued with their blockade of the venue.

The ODM leaders met at Pentagon House and announced that they were expecting a US envoy in the country as part of the international efforts to end the crisis.

Prof Nyong’o opposed any proposals for a coalition government preferring a transitional government to pave the way for fresh elections in three months.

At his news conference, Archbishop Tutu, a Nobel Peace Laureate, said President Kibaki was not opposed to a coalition government idea but instead called for an end to the widespread violence in order for negotiations with Mr Odinga to begin. 

“The President is not averse to the formation of a coalition with the Opposition,” said the Archbishop. 

Speaking after a three-hour meeting with the President at State House, the prelate said the Head of State had agreed to enter negotiations with Mr Odinga for the sake of peace. 

And he expressed hope that following the meeting, the country would return to its former peaceful state, which he added, was an example to other countries in the region. 

“Both the President and Mr Odinga have assured me that they are willing to enter into talks for the sake of peace in the country. That’s the way to go,” he said at a news conference in Nairobi. 

He added: “We are optimistic that violence will soon come to an end in the country.” 

At least 185 people have been killed and scores injured in the widespread post-election violence following protests over the release of the controversial election results, which gave President Kibaki a slim win over Mr Odinga. 

During the meeting, said Archbishop Tutu, President Kibaki assured him that he would not stop anyone from seeking court intervention if they were not satisfied with the results. 

President Kibaki, he added, also promised he will not misuse State instruments of power to intimidate his opponents. 

Present during the State House meeting were Dr Nyansako-Ni-Nku, the president of the All African Conference of Churches (AACC) and Dr Brigalia Bam, the chair of the South African Electoral Commission. 

Archbishop Tutu reiterated the need for political parties to reach out to each other for the sake of peace. “They should not wait for Parliament to be convened for this initiative to begin. It should be immediate,” he said. 

He went on, “These leaders should put their acts together for the sake of peace in the country. It is women and children who are currently suffering.” 

The main problem in the country, he said, lay in the fact that no party was willing to concede defeat in the elections. 

ODM, he said, should accept that there’s already a governing authority in the country, which was maintaining peace and order. 

“This is now not about who won the elections but how the country moves on afterwards. We will keep on praying for the country that peace prevails in these difficult circumstances,” said the Archbishop. 

The Archbishop then briefly met Mwingi North MP-elect Kalonzo Musyoka before flying out of the country. Details of what they discussed were however, not, immediately available. 

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church is calling for the establishment of an independent commission to recount and re-tally the results of the controversial general elections. 

The head of the church Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi at the same time called on President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga to talk in order to avert further chaos in the country. 

“We urge the two leaders to open dialogue between themselves and give hope to the people as they sort out their existing differences,” said the Archbishop. 

At a news conference in Nairobi Friday, Archbishop Nzimbi said the government should facilitate key political leaders to visit the affected areas in order to restore calm in those areas. 

They further urged the government to urgently provide essential relief to the many displaced Kenyans who are in dire need of the basic commodities. 

President Mwai Kibaki and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa called for an end to the post election violence in the country saying leaders from across the political divide must give dialogue a chance.

President Kibaki assured Archbishop Tutu that he was committed to political dialogue with members of other political parties. 

At a meeting held at State House Nairobi today, the President Kibaki and Archbishop Tutu noted that there was urgent need to find a solution to the politically instigated violence. The two underlined the sanctity of human life noting that political protests must never be an excuse for killing innocent people.

They called on political leaders in the country to stop their supporters from engaging in violent acts, saying it was imperative that all Kenyans involve themselves in peace overtures so as to quickly restore sanity to the country. 

President Kibaki reiterated that he was ready and willing to begin consultations and reach out to political party leaders to find solutions to contentious issues. He asked all leaders to cooperate, saying they must be seen to provide positive leadership at this challenging time in the history of the country. 

President Kibaki said it was the responsibility of the government to first secure the country and ensure peace in order to allow for structured dialogue. He once again condemned the acts of violence saying it was despicable for some leaders to incite their people to burn a church where children and women were seeking refuge. 

Emphasizing that sanity must prevail in the country, the President assured that the government would give priority to any petitions that will be made in regard to the just concluded general elections. 

President Kibaki at the same time asked political leaders to respect the country’s institutions, noting these institutions have been the pillars of the country’s progress and stability over the years.

The meeting was also attended by Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi and officials of the National Council of Churches of Kenya led by the General Secretary Canon Peter Karanja and Chairman Eliud Wabukala.


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