Friday, February 15, 2008

Today's Headlines - Fri 2/15/2008


Annan to outline Kenya deal - Sydney Morning Herald (AU)

Kenyan rivals agree to independent review of disputed poll - Guardian (UK)

Amnesty International Calls on Government and African Commission to Act

1 - Kenya's political rivals agree to independent review disputed of election - AP

2 - Annan set to unveil Kenya 'deal' - BBC

3 - Kenyan opposition frustrated by talks - CNN

4 - Kenya parties agree to independent poll probe - Reuters

5 - Google News (various)

6 - Africa - Confidential (excerpts) - Full text requires subscription


UPDATE: Annan to outline Kenya deal - Sydney Morning Herald (AU)

February 16, 2008 - 12:43AM

Former UN chief Kofi Annan was on Friday to reveal details of a deal agreed by Kenya's rival parties to pull the country out of deadly turmoil, but more tough negotiations lay ahead.

Negotiators for President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition signed an agreement on Thursday during talks with Annan to end weeks of violence since a disputed December 27 election in which more than 1,000 people have died and 300,000 have been displaced.

Talks are to resume on Monday when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives to deliver a US message to Kenya's leaders that "there must be a full return to democracy".

Sources close to the talks said the sides had agreed to constitutional reforms and to bring opposition members into the government but differences remained, hampering Annan's efforts for a comprehensive deal.

Nairobi's Daily Nation newspaper carried the headline: "Annan's team strikes half-way deal in talks," while the Standard sounded a more pessimistic note: "48 hours later... and no deal yet."

Kenya descended into crisis when Kibaki, 76, was declared the winner of the vote, which opposition leader Raila Odinga, 63, maintains was rigged.

Annan has been pushing for a power-sharing deal that would bring together the government and the opposition to oversee reforms and pave the way for fresh elections, possibly in two years.

But during talks, Kibaki's camp balked at proposals for "power-sharing", saying it would only appoint opposition members to a government under the strong executive leadership of the president, a top government official said.

The opposition has pushed for the appointment of Odinga as prime minister with full powers as head of government, a post that would require changes to the constitution.

The parties agreed to launch a one-year constitutional review that could address many of the grievances that fueled the violence -- which appears to have subsided over the past seven days.

But constitutional reforms would be conditional on a deal on the makeup of the new all-inclusive government, said the official, who asked not to be named.

"We are still talking and we have not agreed conclusively," said Martha Karua, justice minister and the government's lead negotiator.

The text of the agreement signed by the two sides was to be released during Annan's news conference scheduled for 5:00 pm (1400 GMT).

The rival leaders have been under international pressure to make concessions, with the United States and Britain threatening visa bans, an assets freeze and other sanctions.

US President George W. Bush announced ahead of a five-nation Africa tour that he had asked Rice to travel to Kenya -- which is not on his own itinerary -- to deliver a strong message.

"There must be an immediate halt to violence, there must be justice for the victims of abuse, and there must be a full return to democracy," Bush said.

Former colonial power Britain angered Kibaki's camp when High Commissioner Adam Wood said London did not recognize the government "as presently constituted."

At the request of the African Union, Annan -- who arrived in Nairobi on January 22 -- launched a mediation to end the violence that saw Kenyans hacked to death by machete-wielding mobs, burnt in churches where they had sought refuge and driven off their land.

The turmoil has laid bare tribal rivalries as well as simmering resentment over land issues and wealth disparities in Kenya.

Kenya's world-famous safari resorts and beach hotels have suffered a bruising loss of business while the country's economic upswing, with growth at seven percent, could soon flatten out.

© 2008 AFP

This story is sourced direct from an overseas news agency as an additional service to readers. Spelling follows North American usage, along with foreign currency and measurement units.

1.30pm GMT update
UPDATE: Kenyan rivals agree to independent review of disputed poll

Mark Tran, Louise Radnofsky and agencies,
Friday February 15 2008

Kenya's rival political factions have agreed to an independent review into last year's disputed election, according to details of a deal revealed today.

The Associated Press has obtained a copy of the preliminary agreement, which was signed yesterday.

It does not resolve the thorny issue of power-sharing, but the government has for the first time dropped its insistence that the election results can only be challenged in court.

Negotiators representing the president, Mwai Kibaki, and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, have been in secret talks for two days, with mediation from Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the UN.

Odinga maintains that Kibaki stole the December election. The subsequent violence has left about 1,000 people dead in ethnic violence, displaced more than 500,000 people and severely undermined Kenya's reputation for stability.

The agreement calls for an independent review committee "to investigate all aspects of the 2007 presidential election", with advice from Kenyan and international experts.

It will start work on March 15 and produce a report within six months.

In the agreement, the government acknowledges that the dispute cannot be resolved in court because the deadline for complaints has already expired.

Kibaki and his supporters had previously insisted the opposition use the legal process for their complaints, while Odinga said Kibaki stole the election and should step down.

"We agree a political settlement is necessary to promote national reconciliation and unity," the preliminary deal says.

The agreement also calls for the two sides to write a new constitution within a year. Kenya's constitution was drawn up ahead of independence from Britain in 1963 and has been revised repeatedly, giving the president sweeping powers.

Other issues in the 10-point deal include comprehensive reform of electoral laws and institutions and the creation of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission.

"We have only one outstanding issue ... the governance structure, which is being actively discussed. Several options have emerged," according to the agreement, which added that the negotiators would now consult Kibaki and Odinga.

That issue is likely to prove much more difficult to resolve, with an opposition member with close ties to the talks telling AP that "the talks deadlocked over the discussion of government structure."

On Tuesday, it emerged that the opposition had offered to share power with Kibaki, in return for fresh elections in 2010.

It is understood the Orange Democratic Movement opposition party has demanded more than half of the cabinet seats to reflect its vote in the parliamentary elections.

George Bush, the US president, announced yesterday that his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, would visit Kenya on Monday to encourage a political compromise.

Bush said Rice would tell Kenya's leaders and people: "There must be an immediate halt to violence, there must be justice for the victims of abuse and there must be a full return to democracy."

Salim Lone, an opposition spokesman, welcomed Rice's visit as a sign of growing recognition within and outside the US that Kenya's crisis is far from over and international pressure is still needed.

"We should not be fooled by the current relative calm to believe that peace is around the corner," Lone said. "Already we can see that the government has consistently tried to undermine the negotiations on this core issue and even if Mr Annan succeeds in forging a settlement, the world will have to be very vigilant in insuring the government implements it."

The US embassy in Nairobi said Rice would meet Kibaki, Odinga and Annan, as well as civil society and business leaders to press for an end to the violence, justice for victims of abuse and a "full return to democracy".

Several countries have threatened unspecified sanctions against hardliners who might derail the negotiations. They also have said they will cut aid, impose travel bans or freeze the assets of anyone suspected of inciting violence.

Odinga, who served as a cabinet minister in Kibaki's administration for two years before being thrown out in December 2005, fell out over a previous attempt at constitutional reform.

More on
World news

Feb 15 2008
Kofi Annan and the art of intelligent intervention
Feb 14 2008
British colonial policy is not to blame for Kenya's troubles
Feb 14 2008
Kenya leadership rivals sign peace deal
Feb 14 2008
Bush to send Rice to Kenya to demand a halt to violence

UPDATE: Amnesty International Calls on Government and African Commission to Act

Amnesty International


15 February 2008 Posted to the web 15 February 2008

As Kofi Annan prepares announces the results of the political mediation in Kenya and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights begins an extraordinary session to discuss the human rights situation in the country, Amnesty International called on the Commission and Kenyan government to prioritize an investigation into the human rights violations and abuses perpetrated during the post-election period.

The African Commission will be meeting in an extraordinary session in Banjul, Gambia to discuss developments in Kenya, amongst other issues, between 15 and 24 February.

“A human rights agenda must be central to any resolution of the political crises – which means that those responsible for the violence must be brought to justice, and the victims receive reparations. Impunity for human rights violations will only store up problems for Kenya’s future, and we hope that the African Commission will play its role in ensuring that this does not happen” said Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, who has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Kenya.

Amnesty International called on the African Commission to:

* Urge the Kenyan government to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and ensure that suspected perpetrators are held responsible through trials that comply with international standards.

* Undertake an investigative mission to Kenya to assess the human rights situation. The Commission's Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa should be an integral part of the mission. The report of the mission with specific recommendations should be submitted to the African Union's Heads of States Assembly soon after the visit and subsequently be made public.

* Call on the Kenyan government and opposition to ensure the full respect for human rights by their supporters.

Background information
Since 30 December, more than 1,000 people have been killed in politically motivated or ethnic attacks in Kenya. This number includes numerous people shot dead by the police, who were deployed to quell the violence or break up mass protests called by the opposition against the results of the presidential elections.

According to estimates, over 300,000 people have become internally displaced [UN now estimates as many as 600,000] as a result of the violence and more than 10,000 others have fled to Uganda as refugees.

Copyright © 2008 Amnesty International. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (


1 - Kenya's political rivals agree to independent review disputed of election - AP

The Associated Press

Friday, February 15, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya: Kenya's political rivals have agreed on the need for an independent review of the election at the center of their dispute, but the difficult question of sharing power has yet to be resolved, chief mediator and former U.N. chief Kofi Annan said Friday.

"Let me assure you that there is real momentum," Annan told reporters, one day after the agreement was signed. "We are at the water's edge and the last difficult and frightening step, as difficult as it is, will be taken."

The deal included a call for a new constitution, and marks the first time government officials have agreed to a review of the election results. It is clear progress weeks after the dispute triggered nationwide violence that has killed more than 1,000 people.

Talks were to continue Monday.

Power sharing, the solution the rival camps have been under pressure to adopt, remained a thorny issue.

The preliminary agreement calls for the two sides to draw up a new constitution within a year, which could pave the way for a prime minister's post or another way to share power.

"We have only one outstanding issue ... the governance structure, which is being actively discussed. Several options have emerged," said the agreement, adding that the negotiators will now consult President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The agreement called for an independent review committee "to investigate all aspects of the 2007 presidential election." The committee will include Kenyan and non-Kenyan experts, start work March 15 and submit its report within three to six months. The report will be published two weeks later.

In the agreement, the government also acknowledged that the dispute cannot be resolved in court because the deadline for complaints has expired earlier this year. Kibaki's government had insisted the opposition take its complaints to the courts, while Odinga had argued he stole the Dec. 27 vote and should step down.

The 10-point agreement also provides for a comprehensive reform of electoral laws and institutions and the creation of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission.

The report also said politicians must examine how long-standing land grievances, accusations of ethnic favoritism and frustration over poverty and corruption all contributed to the violence.

In the western town of Kisumu, where anti-government sentiments run high and scene of some of the worst bloodshed, residents said they were getting restless about the seemingly drawn-out negotiations.

"Why are they not hitting the main issue so we can have a normal life in Kenya?" demanded a 35-year old taxi driver, Dan Omondi, who lives in Kisumu. "When you are hungry you need food not appetizers."

2 - Annan set to unveil Kenya 'deal' - BBC

Former United Nations head Kofi Annan is set to announce the details of an agreement reached after two days of talks to end Kenya's political crisis.

Both teams have returned to the capital from an exclusive tourist resort after the talks were adjourned on Thursday.

A BBC correspondent says the teams may have agreed in principle to share power but details still need to be finalised.

President Mwai Kibaki was formally declared the winner, but the opposition says the count was rigged.
At least 1,000 people have died and more than 600,000 have been displaced during the post-election violence.

If patients cannot access their medication, HIV could kill more people [in this crisis] than injuries from bullets

Walter Kizito, MSF

The international community is pushing for a deal which would see Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga share power with President Kibaki.

On Thursday, government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said the two sides had agreed to write a new constitution within a year.

This could pave the way for the creation of the post of prime minister, which Mr Odinga could take, however the opposition team says the issue of power sharing needed to be resolved first.

'Not a colony'
The BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi says other details which would need to be worked out are the division of ministerial portfolios in a grand coalition.

During the talks, German's Foreign Minister Gernot Erler briefed both teams on how the country's grand coalition works during a session on power-sharing.

The teams are expected to get further briefing from their leaders, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga, before the talks resume next week.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to arrive in Kenya on Monday to help put pressure on both sides to reach a deal.

Mr Annan had expressed optimism that a political settlement that will end the crisis would be reached within three days.

Police accused
Foreign diplomats have warned representatives of both sides of dire consequences if they scuttle the process.

But Justice Minister Martha Karua, who heads the government side, has asked them to refrain from threats as Kenya charts its own course.

"I would like to remind them we are not a colony and they should adhere to the diplomatic convention of not interfering with sovereign states," Ms Karua told reporters soon after arriving in Nairobi from the talks.

Meanwhile, human rights activists have accused police of "sleeping on the job" for allegedly failing to investigate claims of criminal behaviour at the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).

They presented a list to the Attorney General of 22 ECK officials and other staff, who they believe were involved in forgery, subverting the rule of law and failing in their statutory duty during the 27 December election.

International election observers say there were numerous discrepancies in the way the votes were counted and results announced.

The human rights groups have urged the Attorney General to order an investigation and warn that if their pleas are ignored they will opt for a private prosecution.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/02/15 11:18:07 GMT


3 - Kenyan opposition frustrated by talks

February 14, 2008 -- Updated 2207 GMT (0607 HKT)

Story Highlights

  • Kenyan opposition frustrated at pace of talks to resolve crisis, official says
  • Negotiators have reached some sort of agreement; talks to continue next week
  • Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan due to outline the agreement
  • President Bush has said Condoleezza Rice will fly to Kenya to support talks

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- A senior official from Kenya's opposition party says its camp is "frustrated with the pace of the negotiations" to settle the political crisis in Kenya.

The official, from the Orange Democratic Movement, said the government mediation team has not put details of a "power-sharing agreement" on the table and could be "stonewalling Kofi Annan to tire him out."

Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general, is leading the mediation effort to settle the violent dispute that boiled over into bloodshed after the Dec. 27 presidential elections.

Also, the assertion of "stonewalling" jibes with a Kenyan TV report that the government mediation team on Thursday asked for a seven-day recess from the negotiations. The report said Annan told the mediators they had to continue their work.

Alfred Matua, spokesman for the government, told CNN that "those statements are incorrect" because the government team has come up with three different political framework options.

The Orange Democratic Movement said it proposed a separation of powers plan with a prime minister and the president retaining significant powers.

A spokesman for the Kenyan negotiators on Thursday said mediators have reached some sort of a political agreement and will continue talking next week.

A government spokeswoman said the agreement isn't substantive but the talks are progressing. Annan is to outline the agreement at a news conference Friday in Kenya.

On Thursday, U.S. President George W. Bush announced U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would visit Kenya in the coming few days to support efforts to end violence there. announced the mission in Washington on Thursday.

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Kenyan opposition party spokesman Salim Lone said that Rice's trip to Kenya is a "very positive step."

Earlier this week, both sides in the disputed December 27 presidential election in Kenya agreed not to pursue a recount or audit of the votes.

Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki won the elections [?], but the opposition said it was rigged. That disagreement sparked violence countrywide between members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and other groups, including opposition leader Raila Odinga's Luo tribe.

Both sides have agreed on the creation of an independent committee to investigate irregularities in the election and suggest reforms.

On Thursday, chief government negotiator Martha Karua was also asked about reported comments from the British high commissioner to Kenya that the British government does not recognize the current government as legitimate.

"I will remind them that we are not a colony and we will not take pressure from any other country," she said. "Can you imagine a Kenyan envoy telling the British what to do? They are throwing their non-existent weight around."

4 - Kenya parties agree to independent poll probe - Reuters

Fri 15 Feb 2008, 14:28 GMT

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's feuding political parties have agreed to set up an independent review of the disputed Dec. 27 presidential election, mediator Kofi Annan said on Friday.

Annan, reporting on progress at this week's talks, also said it was essential for the parties to form a "broad coalition" to agree on constitutional and electoral reforms going forward.

Talks will resume on Tuesday, he said, in search of a political pact most expect to be power-sharing between President Mwai Kibaki's party and opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement.

Their dispute over who won the election triggered violence that has killed 1,000 people and displaced more than 300,000 others, tarnishing Kenya's reputation as a stable democracy, promising economy, and regional hub for trade and tourism.

Annan said "considerable" progress was being made even though his goal of reaching a political accord this week had passed. "The momentum is with us," he told reporters.

"I will stay as long as it takes to get the process to an irreversible point."

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.


5 - Google News Alert for: Kenya

Kenya's political rivals sign deal on new constitution, negotiator ... [TEXT ABOVE ITEM 1]
International Herald Tribune - France
AP NAIROBI, Kenya: Kenya's political rivals agreed to write a new constitution — a move that could allow for power-sharing — as part of a deal to end weeks ...
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Kenya: Wetangula Reacts to British Envoy Claim - Washington,USA
Relations between Britain and Kenya's political elite have swung between cordial and frosty depending on the issues at hand.
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Kenya: EU Warns of Sanctions If Talks Fail - Washington,USA
The European Union (EU) has warned that it could sever trade and bilateral links with Kenya if political leaders do not move fast to resolve the political ...
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Kenya: Econet Wireless Hiring Staff Ahead of Roll-Out - Washington,USA
Econet Wireless Kenya, the country's third cellular phone operator, is recruiting staff ahead of its planned roll out in Nairobi and Mombasa. ...
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This as-it-happens Google Alert is brought to you by Google.


Vol 49 Number 4, 15th February 2008

The safari talks

Signs of progress, however elusive, are boosting hopes for a deal but the militias are rearming - just in case.

The announcement of a political deal on 14 February at talks at a Kilaguni Game Lodge mediated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan boosted morale but may not change the fundamentals. There is much scepticism about the plan for a 'grand coalition' in Nairobi's fractious parliament.

There is still more concern up country about whether a top-table agreement in the capital will staunch the violence on the ground and end the forced evictions and arson.

Many Kenyans suspect that both sides will renege on a compromise deal once Annan and his advisors have departed, and the bitter cycle of attacks and counter attacks will restart.

Vol 49 Number 4, 15th February 2008

Message from the wazungu

Outsiders have been belatedly increasing pressure on Kenya's feuding politicians as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan moved the negotiating teams to the secluded Kilaguni Safari Lodge in the Tsavo West National Park. The cacophony of mixed messages from Western governments - with officials within the same government contradicting each other - is changing into a more coherent position: anyone who sabotages the talks mediated by Annan will face visa bans, asset freezes and perhaps criminal investigation.

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