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Opinions Thu, 28 Feb 2008

Did President Kufuor fail in Kenya?

A GNA News Feature by Boakye-Dankwa Boadi

Accra, Feb. 28, GNA - The news that the feuding parties in Kenya have signed an agreement to end that country's post-election violence is very refreshing. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga at a ceremony in Nairobi put their signatures to a power-sharing deal brokered by Busumuru Kofi Annan, Immediate- Past Secretary General of the United Nations.


A coalition government comprising members of the current ruling party and opposition will now be formed, the Western Media have reported.


They said under the power-sharing deal a new two-party coalition government to be set up with the division of posts in the new government reflecting the parties' strengths in the Kenyan National Assembly Mr Odinga would take the new post of Prime Minister and can only be dismissed by Kenyan National Assembly, while two new Deputy Prime Ministers would be appointed - one from each member of the coalition. After the deal Busumuru Annan said: "Compromise was necessary for the survival of this country' and urged all Kenyans to support the agreement, saying: "The job of national reconciliation and national reconstruction is not for the leaders alone. It must be carried out in every neighbourhood, village and hamlet of the nation."


Speaking after the signing, Mr Kibaki said: "This process has reminded us that as a nation there are more issues that unite than that divide us...


"We've been reminded we must do all in our power to safeguard the peace that is the foundation of our national unity... Kenya has room for all of us."


Mr Odinga said: "With the signing of this agreement, we have opened a new chapter in our country's history - from the era or phase of confrontation to the beginning of co-operation. "We on our side are completely committed to ensuring that this agreement will succeed." Both men thanked those who had stood by Kenya in what Mr Odinga called its "hour of need", including Busumuru Annan; African Union; European Union; United States and United Nations.


The Role of President Kufuor


President Kufuor left Accra on Tuesday January 8 2008 for Kenya at the invitation of President Kibaki as part of an international effort to end the post elections violence in that country.


The Ghana News Agency carried the limited agenda for President Kufuor's visit - "President Kufuor is expected to extract from both President Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga an unconditional commitment to dialogue and the use of constitutional means to resolve the electoral impasse in that country.


"A statement signed by Mr Andrew Awuni, Presidential Spokesperson; said President Kibaki's special envoy to President Kufuor at the weakened indicated President Kibaki's willingness to dialogue and also to partake in the formation of a government of national unity." "At the airport to see him off were Ministers of State; Government Officials; the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt-Gen. J. B. Danquah and other Senior Military and Police personnel.


"The President is expected back on Thursday. Later in the day GNA again reported: "President John Agyekum Kufuor, Chairman of the African Union (AU) has arrived in Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday evening to help in the search for a solution to the electoral impasse that has resulted in violent clashes killing over 300 people and displacing more than half a million others.


"The President is in Kenya at the invitation of President Mwai Kibaki to join the international effort to restore Kenya back to the path of peace and tranquillity.

"A statement from the Office of the President, Castle and signed by Mr Andrew Awuni, Press Secretary to the President and Presidential Spokesman; said President Kufuor was met on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by the beleaguered Kenyan President Kibaki and several members of his newly formed Government.


"President Kibaki was said to have announced his new cabinet shortly before the arrival of President Kufuor.


"The statement said President Kufuor inspected a guard of honour from the Kenyan Airforce, took the salute before proceeding to his hotel in the central business district in Nairobi to prepare for what will be a busy Wednesday.


President Kufuor's Limited Agenda


On the next day GNA reported: "President John Agyekum Kufuor, Chairman of the African Union (AU) is in the Kenyan Capital, Nairobi, to lead international efforts to resolve the political stalemate over the country's disputed presidential elections.


"The visit was at the invitation of the Kenyan Leader Mwai Kibaki, who was on hand to personally welcome him at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.


"His main agenda would be a meeting with President Kibaki and the Opposition Leader Mr Raila Odinga on Wednesday to attempt to start a process of political dialogue for peaceful resolution of the disputed poll, threatening to melt down the East African nation, once hailed as a model of stability.


"Mr Odinga's party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which refused to accept defeat, claiming vote rigging, on Tuesday met to strategise its position in what appears to be going to be tough and difficult political negotiations.


"As the battle now shifts from the streets to negotiating table, the opposition Leader has said he would have face-to-face meeting with President Kibaki, only if it was part of the mediation effort by President Kufuor.


"Kenya came out badly scarred by violence that convulsed parts of the country leaving more than 300 killed and tens of thousands displaced.


Later the same Wednesday the GNA reported: "President John Agyekum Kufuor, Chairman of the African Union (AU), on Wednesday held the first rounds of talks with the main political actors in the disputed Kenyan presidential election as part of a diplomatic push to assist them to find common grounds and ease the stalemate.


"He met one-on-one with both President Mwai Kibaki, whose re-election had thrown the East African country into turmoil and the main Opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Leader, Mr Raila Odinga and later with a 12-member team from a coalition of Kenyan opposition political parties known as "Pentagon".

"The meeting with the Kenyan Leader at the State House lasted for over one hour while that with Mr Odinga at the Inter Continental Hotel travelled beyond two-and-a-half hours.


"President Kufuor was billed to go into another round of talks with Mr Kibaki later in the afternoon.


"All parties to the negotiations were tight-lipped and would not let out any details about the main issues on the table.


"Mr Odinga's ODM told the horde of journalists, who had laid siege at the Inter Continental Hotel prying for news about the progress or otherwise of the talks, that matters regarding diplomacy could not be discussed in the media.


"The Press Secretary to President Kufuor, Mr Andrew Awuni said the meetings centred on the need for all parties to stand down from their entrenched positions and agree to meet together for talks without any precondition.


"The Leaders were also asked to impress upon their supporters to cease from all acts of violence and to allow the rule of law to prevail. "Kenya, once hailed as a model of stability, was plunged into chaos as protests over the disputed December 27 elections snowballed into violent ethnic clashes that have killed more than 300 and displaced tens of thousands of people.


"Mr Odinga and his ODM have refused to recognise the legitimacy of President Kibaki, claiming he was wrongly credited with victory. "They have, therefore, been demanding the formation of a Transitional Government, which they said President Kibaki should not be part of, to oversee a re-run of the poll.


"The 76-year-old President Kibaki in a move to tighten his hold on power and what his supporters said was to prevent a political vacuum, on Tuesday announced the first batch of his new Cabinet, drawing flak from the ODM which parried it as a "sideshow" and political provocation. "The Kenyan Leader says the 17 people he named to his Cabinet, constituted only a half of the number, leaving room to manoeuvre in the course of the political negotiations.


On Thursday January 10, 2008, GNA again reported: "The Kenyan Government and the main opposition political party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on Thursday clinched a deal to ease the stalemate and violence over the country's disputed presidential election.


"President Mwai Kibaki and the ODM's Leader Raila Odinga agreed on interim measures pending the search for a lasting solution." The GNA filed a report when President Kufuor arrived in Accra later the same day. It reported: "President John Agyekum Kufuor arrived this evening from Kenya after holding a peace building meeting with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Opposition Leader Mr Raila Odinga. "Kenya, East Africa's economic powerhouse has been plunged into political turmoil as protests over Mr Kibaki's re-election snowballed into nasty ethnic clashes that had killed more than 300 and displaced tens of thousands of people.


"To help to salvage the situation, the Kenyan Leader sought the assistance of President Kufuor to mediate and to help them to find a common ground to begin the process of reconciliation.


"Speaking to journalists on arrival at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra Mr Andrew Awuni, Presidential Spokesperson, said a statement issued after President Kufuor held talks with the Kenyan feuding parties directed an immediate cessation of the violence as well as any act, which would be detrimental to peace.

"He said the statement also urged the parties to resort to dialogue under the auspices of the African Union for lasting solution to the crisis.


"Mr Awuni said the parties agreed to work together with a panel of eminent African personalities towards resolving their difference and all other outstanding issues, including constitutional and electoral reforms.


"He said President Kufuor appealed to all Kenyans as well as friends and partners of Kenya to collaborate and support the process of dialogue and reconciliation.


"Mr Awuni, in response to questions from the journalists said it was important for the President in his capacity as Chairman of AU to maintain neutrality in his approach to the issue to earn the trust of the people.


"Mr AKwasi Osei Adjei, Foreign Minister said the President as AU Chairman was obliged to attend to issues affecting African countries and thus it was not wrong for him to have left for Kenya to mediate while there was problem in Ghana's Northern region where efforts were put in place to deal with the conflict.


"Ministers of State and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General J.B. Danquah, and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Patrick Acheampong, met the President on arrival at the airport."


The Genesis of Busumuru Annan's Efforts


On January 11 the GNA reported: "Ghana's celebrated diplomat and Former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Busumuru Kofi Annan on Friday appealed to Kenyan political leaders not to take any further steps that would compromise the search for peace. "He said they should not create facts on the ground that would make it difficult for the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, which both sides to the election dispute had agreed to work with, to find viable and lasting solution.


"Busumuru Annan was speaking at the Castle, Osu after formally accepting the invitation from President John Agyekum Kufuor, Chairman of the African Union (UN), to head the Panel.


"The other two members are Gracia Machel, wife of Former South African President Nelson Mandela and Mr Benjamin Mkapa, Former President of Tanzania.


"Busumuru Annan called on the Government and opposition political parties to bear in mind the interest of Kenyans and to show goodwill, leadership and maturity.


"He said they were going to put together a Secretariat to enable the Panel work as expeditiously as possible to resolve many of the issues and to restore the East African country to normalcy. "Referring to the AU Chairman's trip to Kenya, he said it was essential and had made a difference.

"He thanked President Kufuor and said it was a great responsibility they had been given, which they took seriously. "President Kufuor, whose visit to Kenya was at the invitation of the two feuding parties, said he went there with a programme, to get them to agree to immediate cessation of violence, to accept to use dialogue to settle their differences and to agree to talk under the aegis of the Panel of Eminent African personalities.


"He said during the two days, he won the support of both the Government and the opposition parties to abide by these. Another story carried by the GNA on the same day said among other things; "the Chairman of the African Union, President John Agyekum Kufuor succeeded to get the two parties to accept a number of proposals.


"Speaking at the Castle, Osu on Friday after Busumuru Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of United Nations, had formally accepted the invitation from him to head an African Union (UN) Panel to continue with negotiations, President Kufuor said he went to Kenya with a limited agenda.


"President Kufuor said he went there with a programme, to get them to agree to immediate cessation of violence; to accept to use dialogue to settle their differences and to agree to talk under the aegis of Panel of Eminent African personalities.


"President Kufuor, whose visit to Kenya was at the invitation of the two feuding parties, said during the two days he won the support of both the Government and the opposition parties to abide by these. "He said political negotiations took time and that it was simply impossible to have solved the crisis within the short period of his visit.


"Responding to a question as to whether there was any lesson Ghana could take from the Kenyan experience, he said the country had already known the implication of mishandled elections, citing the parliamentary election boycott in 1992, by the New Patriotic Party (NPP).


"President Kufuor said institutions of state in the Continent must manage themselves in a way that might not spark off violence. Kenya, which used to be a model of stability in Africa, was thrown into chaos following the December 27, disputed presidential election that handed power back to President Kibaki.


This Writer has gone to this extent to show once again that the Western Media stereotyping was at play when they reported that President Kufuor had failed during his mission to Kenya.


The seed President Kufuor went and sowed in Kenya has been successfully watered by Busumuru Annan and has now bore fruits. This proves that the First President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkruma's assertion that "The African is capable of solving his own problems" is true. Did President Kufuor fail in Kenaya? 28 Feb. 08

Columnist: GNA
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