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The Kenya Impasse:Obama Weighs In.

Discussion in 'Kenyan News and Politics' started by Ab-Titchaz, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

    Apr 11, 2009
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    Kuna hali ya kutoelewana inayoendelea miongoni mwa vile vyama
    vilivyounda ile 'Grand Coaliton' ambapo imebidi serikali ya Marekani
    ichangie hamsini yao.Story yenyewe ni ndefu kidogo na nitakua
    nawatonya kadri tunavyozidi kupashana habari.

    Obama says he is watching Kenya keenly


    Updated 21 hr(s) 38 min(s) ago

    By James Ratemo

    US President Barack Obama has raised the profile of calls on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resolve the political impasse.

    Obama, whose father was Kenyan, also said he was concerned with the status of corruption and wrangling in the Government.

    US has a strong interest in the political stability of Kenya…Kenya is too important to fail. It is not me saying this, this is shared by the highest level of my Government," said America's ambassador to Kenya, Michael Rannerberger, who delivered the message. Outgoing German Ambassador Walter Lindner called for toning down of emotions among politicians, saying the European Union was also concerned about Kenya's unstable coalition.

    "Leaders should tone down their language to avoid premature polarisation. Current reactions and counter reactions will be like a snowball that can ignite a campaign mode," warned the envoy.

    The diplomats dismissed early elections as an alternative and said the campaign mode already engulfing the country was unnecessary. "Elections will be the worst alternative to embrace. I appeal to the political class to tone down (their) language, stop an early campaign, roll up sleeves and go back to work," said Lindner.

    "If you start election campaign mode nothing moves. We are three-and-half-years to elections but already politicians have started. All leaders should address reform issues," he added.


    US ambassador Michael Ranneberger (right) during a press conference at the Germany Ambassador's residence on Friday. He said that it impossible to hold fresh elections as the country does not have an electoral commission in place. Looking on is German ambassador Walter Lindner

    Ranneberger said political bickering had distracted the country from the reform agenda, a scenario not taken lightly by Washington. "If the country cannot move ahead, Kenya's democracy will be at stake. Both sides (ODM and PNU) share equal responsibility of the problems in the grand coalition…Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton is closely following what is happening in Kenya," he added.

    "Having an election prematurely is recipe to turn the country into chaos. This is not the time to talk about elections…very soon I will be seeing both the PM and President to relay the concern Washington has for the Kenyan situation," he said.

    The two envoys jointly addressed journalists at German ambassador's residence, barely a week after the falling out between President Kibaki and Raila during the aborted talks of a sub-committee of the Cabinet at Serena Safari Lodge, Kilaguni.

    The two had led their Cabinet members for the retreat that never was. It was aimed at silencing dissent in Cabinet and sorting out the problems facing the coalition.

    ‘Primitive' and ‘Jua kali'

    The meeting aborted after both the President's Party of National Unity and Raila's Orange Democratic Movement could not agree on the agenda.

    Raila's side wanted implementation of national accord be revisited , including the 50-50 per cent power sharing deal, because his team felt it was being taken for granted, while Kibaki's side argued this was a bridge the country crossed long ago.

    Days later, Raila accused Kibaki of letting junior officers humiliate him by contradicting him in public. He then dismissed Kibaki's mode of governance as ‘primitive' and Jua kali (archaic) style.

    The coalition was in the next week jolted by the resignation from the Cabinet by one of Kibaki's hitherto staunchest allies – Justice Minister Martha Karua – who has vowed her name will be on the presidential ballot papers in 2012 General Election.

    Speaking for the first time since the resignation of Karua, President Kibaki on Thursday called on politicians to mind their language and redirect their energies to reforms and development.

    The National Council of Churches of Kenya and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims have publicly called for fresh elections if the coalition fails to pull together. However, following the disbandment of the discredited Electoral Commission, and the onset of Interim Independent Electoral Commission, whose chair is yet to be approved by Parliament , the country may not go to polls soon because there would be no presiding body.

    Lindner, whose country is also led by a fractious but relatively more efficient grand coalition, pleaded with Kenyans not to rush for another election, arguing it was normal for a coalition to shake. He added it there is no problem Kibaki and Raila cannot solve if they have the will. "In Germany we have a coalition government committee burning the midnight oil to iron out issues. If they fail they bring it to leaders. I do not see anything unsolvable. The politicians only need will to solve," he advised.

    A recent survey in Germany by The Standard revealed despite the country going to elections in September, no public campaigns have started ,unlike in Kenya already doing it when the exercise is still far away.

    Call to mend relationship

    In Germany, campaigns start three months to the election. This gives leaders ample time to focus on development agenda.

    On Karua, Lindner said such a scenario was normal in a coalition but called for a competent replacement. "Of course nobody is irreplaceable. This is not outside democracy. She was good. We worked together. I would rather she continued. In the replacement we need an equally reform-oriented person," he said.

    Ranneberger added: "We need honest and constructive debate on issues in contention. They (Kibaki and Raila) have done it before. They can do it again. They started with an excellent relationship, they need to recapture that spirit."

    The Standard | Online Edition :: Obama says he is watching Kenya keenly
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  2. M

    MzalendoHalisi JF-Expert Member

    Apr 11, 2009
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    Je ni nani amecheza foul?

    Sasa kwani Obama ndo Refa?
  3. B

    Bulesi JF-Expert Member

    Apr 11, 2009
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    Na hawa ndio jamaa wanaotuharakisha na intergration ya East Africa wakati wao nyumbani kwao wanashindwa hata kushauriana jinsi ya kujitawala!!Wasituletee balaa zao huku kwetu sisi twende nao taratibu kwa speed inayotufaa sisi wenyewe.
  4. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

    Apr 12, 2009
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    Kwanza kabisa Kibaki ni mwizi and so do not expect any fair game from such.
    Pili Raila kauziwa mbuzi ndani ya gunia...kibarua ni kumrudishia jamaa mzigo

    Within the past few weeks kulikua na a lot of discontent on how the so
    called Grand Coaliton was going about its business.Kibaki na Raila wakaja
    juu wakisema kua watafuta watu kazi kama ni wazembe.Katika post moja
    niliobandika hapo awali nilitoa maoni kua nadhani Raila anatumiwa na Kibaki
    and he needs to be careful.It turns out to be the case as we speak.

    Baadae Waziri wa Sheria na Waziri mdogo wa Afya wakajiuzulu na Raila
    akaja kali na matamshi yake
    kua Kibaki amekiuka maazimio ya ule mkutano
    wao na Annan ulioleta amani Kenya.Basi wakaamua wakutane katika hoteli
    moja iitwayo Kilaguni Lodge lakini kulingana na habari zinazofikia ofisi zangu,
    Kibaki na wahuni wake wa PNU wakajitia hawaelewi hali halisi ya mawazo
    ya wakenya waliowengi. Kuna watu wanaashiria warudi kwenye debe ili
    ngoma ipigwe upya na kuna wale wanaoogopa hio kitu...thats the cold area!

    The situtaion being fragile as it is, has prompted Obama to weigh in maana
    najua anaona wazi kule hii ngoma inakoelekea. Ukweli ni kwamba Kibaki na
    watu wake wakiachiwa to go unchecked basi Kenya itasambaratika katika
    njia ambazo kwamba huwezi ku-imagine.

    Baadae nitapekua makabrasha kuwaleteeni statement ya ODM kuhusu hii

  5. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

    Apr 12, 2009
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    Annan steps in to rescue talks



    Posted Saturday, April 11 2009 at 19:49

    Kenya’s peace mediator Kofi Annan has once again stepped in to convince President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to put aside their differences and hold talks on urgent reforms within the shortest time possible, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

    Mr Annan called both coalition leaders this week in the wake of the failed Kilaguni talks and stinging attacks from both sides of the coalition government, raising political temperatures and national anxiety.

    Mr Odinga confirmed the call from Mr Annan that came as diplomats in Nairobi, the civil society, the Church and the media heaped pressure on the two leaders to give dialogue a chance. The American and German missions in Nairobi led the diplomatic offensive.

    In the proposal given to the President and the PM by Mr Annan, each of the leaders will nominate one person to harmonise the agenda for discussions which, it is hoped, will return the coalition leaders to the negotiating table.

    Recently, the Cabinet Committee on the Grand Coalition chaired by President Kibaki travelled to the exclusive Kilaguni lodge in the Tsavo National Park for a bonding session but returned to Nairobi empty-handed after each side presented an agenda of their own..
  6. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

    Apr 12, 2009
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    The ORANGE DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT wishes to state that the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya, the Rt. Hon Raila Amolo Odinga (the Prime Minister), and the ODM members of the Permanent Committeeon the Management of Grand Coalition Affairs (the Permanent Committee) went to Kilaguni retreat in order to identify, isolate, discuss and resolve all the issues affecting the smooth running of the Grand Coalition Government.

    We did this in order to enable the country move forward. It was in recognition of the fact that without resolution of these issues, the Grand Coalition Government would not be able to deliver on the People’s Agenda set out in the National Accord. The full and faithful implementation of the National Accord, in both letter and spirit, is well over-due.

    The primary purpose of the Permanent Committeeis to ensure that the Grand Coalition Government can function and resolve issues within it.

    Unfortunately we were not able to agree on issues for discussion; issues which had been agreed on before hand. In fact,by March 14, 2009, the Joint Secretaries had prepared a Draft Agenda, which was typed and printed by the Presidency and Cabinet Office in the Office of the President on March 14th, and which ODM tabled at Kilaguni, contained the following items for discussion:

    The PNU and their joint secretary have not denied this FACT.

    At its first meeting on February 6th, 2006, the Permanent Committee had agreed that in order for the Grand Coalition to run smoothly, a Grand Coalition Agreement and Terms of Reference and working modalities for the Permanent Committee needed to be prepared.

    Indeed, the Joint Secretaries researched on ,met, discussed and consulted extensively on both instruments. Draft copies of both documents were subsequently prepared and circulated to the members of the Permanent Committeeby the Joint Secretaries for discussion at Kilaguni. This was done more than one week prior to the Kilaguni Retreat.

    In point of fact, both PNU and ODM agreed in the Draft Terms of Reference and Working Modalities that whatever either party wanted to be on the agenda for discussion would be included for deliberation.

    In addition, the permanent committee’s meetings were to be closed to non-members.

    The Kilaguni discussions were scheduled to take place on Friday, April 3rd, to Sunday, April 6th, inclusive. It was agreed that apart from security, only members of the Permanent Committee plus the two Joint Secretaries, would attend the meting.

    However, upon arrival at Kilaguni, the ODM team found the entire place swarming with more than one hundred officers from the Office of the President (OP). The Director of National Security Intelligence Service, the Head of Public Service, the State House Controller & Private Secretary to the President and horde of other senior officials that ought not to have be there, were brought there by PNU team. The PNU coalition also invited Hon. Mutula Kilonzo and Noah Wekesa, who are not members of the Permanent Committee, in clear breach of the Terms of Reference and Modalities already agreed upon.

    To make matters worse, the PNU coalition came armed with a Draft Agenda which was different from the joint agenda that had been agreed to and distributed to members.

    The ODM team requested the PNU Coalition Members of the Permanent Committee to agree for the Joint Draft Agenda to be tabled for adoption and discussion to no avail.

    Upon realizing that the PNU coalition did not intend to abide by the Joint Agenda, the ODM team prepared a second draft agenda with the following items:

    The ODM team then asked their PNU Coalition Partners to attend the meeting and have both Draft Agendas discussed so that an amicable decision could be made with respect of the issues of discussion but the PNU team flatly refused, insisting that it was their draft agenda or nothing.

    The Prime Minister and the entire Permanent Committee went into the conference room on Saturday, April 4th, 2009 and attempted to resolve the differences without success. The Prime Minister then asked the PNU team to invite the President to come to the conference room so that all the contentious issues could be discussed and resolved. Unfortunately, the President refused to attend.

    Both teams went for lunch and returned to the Conference Room with Prime Minister, hoping that the President would attend but this never happened. However after the Prime Minister asked for a brief break for consultations at about 2:30 PM, the president approached the conference room rather than stay and sit, he proceeded to a private office located on the second floor of the conference room.

    Believing that the President was in the conference room ,the Prime Minister and the ODM team returned only to be met by Hons. Uhuru Kenyatta , Moses Wetangula and George Saitoti, asking the Prime Minister to go upstairs to the President.

    It was at this point that the Prime Minister correctly advised the PNU team to invite the President to the conference room of the meeting. The President either refused to come down to the meeting. Instead, the PNU team started discussing “the need for an exit strategy”. They wanted the Prime Minister and the ODM team to agree to issue a Joint Press Statement in which the country was to be misled that the Kilaguni Talks had gone on well.

    At about 3:30pm, the Prime Minister and the ODM team realized that neither the President nor the PNU team wanted to discuss the serious issues ailing our country. A decision was then made for the Prime Minister to return to his hotel room as both teams continued to stay in the conference room.

    Barely ten minutes after the Prime Minister returned to his hotel room, the President climbed down and went back to his suite. The President did not even greet the ODM team. He passed the prime Minister’s room even without stopping to say “Jambo!”.

    The meeting had collapsed!

    ODM believed that we cannot have a functioning Government and Coalition without an honest recognition, isolation and resolution of the issues affecting the Grand Coalition and the country at large.

    PNU, on the other hand, insists issues cannot even be discussed and that the retreat was meant as a PR exercise!

    ODM is fully committed to have service delivery to all Kenyans; a serious discussion of all issues affecting the people of Kenya, particularly poverty and the state of the economy, unemployment, inequalities and inequities in resource allocation and distribution, grand corruption, extra-judicial killings, institutional reforms and legal reforms; and comprehensive constitutional review.

    It is common knowledge that the National Accord provides for real power sharing in Government between President Kibaki / PNU Coalition and Prime Minister Raila Odinga / ODM. Yet one year and a half following the formation of the Grand Coalition Government, the only power that has been shared with ODM is the cabinet. President Kibaki continues to disregard the provisions of the national Accord and indeed the constitution by making major decisions affecting all Kenyans without regard to his coalition partner.

    This situation must change
  7. M

    MzalendoHalisi JF-Expert Member

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    1. Sasa Raila anasema Haheshimiwi kwa kuwa hapewi red capet na choo chake safi kama Kibaki! Je hii ni hoja kweli???

    2. A diplomatic move would entail a strarategy to make Raila na Kibaki be friends: they meet each other as friends! This will resolve a lot of difrerences!

    3. The use of Media has contributed negatively to bring mistrust among them..why always use media?
  8. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

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    nitakujibu ifuatavyo...Raila ni muongeaji hodari sana wa kimafumbo
    na iwapo umemsikiza kwa siku nyingi hizi analogies zake is way of addressing
    issues.Hio hoja ya vyoo basically is pointing to privacy...Kwamba he
    can't do anything in private maana those junior officers hua wanamletea
    madahrau na hususan hua wametumwa.Maswala ya zulia ni ya kuonyesha
    the materialism of the Kibaki cronies ambao wako hell bent kumuonyesha
    Raila that he together with ODM are not equal partners to Kibaki and PNU.

    Kuhusu hio diplomatic move, nitakupa wasia kua its dead on arrival.
    Kumbuka nimesema hapo awali kua Kibaki aliiba kura na soni imemjaa
    machoni hata kum-face Raila ana kwa ana ni ngumu.Ndio maana unaona katika
    statement ya ODM kwenye ule mkutano wa Kilaguni, the President refused
    to attend a meeting when called upon
    na akawatuma wapambe wake.
    Kumbuka pia kua, after the disputed '07 election Kibaki alikua hataki kukutana na
    Raila bali akawa anawatuma kina Martha Karua to do his dirty bidding.Hivi
    leo Martha Karua 'kaona mwanga' na akajiuzulu wadhifa wa Uwaziri.

    As regards the media kumbuka pia kua Kenya kuna media ambazo zina-favor
    opposition, so to speak na kuna mbili tatu zinazosupport serikali dhalimu.
    So it's with this in mind that antagonism inatokea.Ile Standard kwa maoni
    yangu ni pro-ODM na Daily Nation nao wanawapiga PNU taff.

    Hizi wiki zinazofuata zitatuletea vihoja mbalimbali.Kem tusubiri.
  9. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

    Apr 12, 2009
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    Raila: I am not willing to take insults and defiant acts from PNU partners


    By Sunday Nation Reporter
    Posted Saturday, April 11 2009 at 18:32

    Sunday Nation: You have issued stinging criticism of President Kibaki in recent days. What has changed?

    Raila Odinga: What I’ve been talking about is first the macro-issues of the government. The way the government is trying to discharge its responsibilities and tackling reforms. Then there is the micro – the nitty gritty of how the government is operating. A time has reached when we can’t keep some of these things under the carpet. After what happened at Kilaguni, we felt that it was necessary for the country to know the truth about the inside happenings.

    Sunday Nation:What is your specific criticism of President Kibaki?

    Raila: There’s always need for consultations, disclosure and confidence, particularly when you are running a coalition government. It’s different from when you are running a government of one political party where the President can act and explain himself later. We are coalition partners and partners have a responsibility to their constituency. If decisions are made, and you are not consulted, you look irrelevant. That’s why we have always demanded that there be consultations and that our support should not be taken for granted. We are an equal partner in the coalition.

    Sunday Nation: You have weekly meetings with the President. Has this not been an adequate avenue for discussion?

    Raila: When we meet, we compare notes and diaries. But in between, other things happen and you are informed as if in second place. Examples are when heads of state and government visit the country – Turkey, Iran, Burundi. They come here and you only get to know after. Discussions and negotiations take place in State House and you only get to know after. Or even when the President travels out of the country and signs agreements and we are not informed. There are other details that I don’t want to go public about, but what I’m saying is that there has been little consultation.

    Sunday Nation; Does that go for government appointments as well?

    Raila: Exactly. A major appointment is made – vice-chancellors, chancellors, diplomats, judges, PSs, parastatal chiefs – without consultations at all. The law may specify that the President appoints but that is a president who is not leading a coalition government. When a president is leading a coalition government then those powers need to be shared. There need to be consultations.

    They will tell you that the Accord contradicts certain sections of the constitution. The fact is that the Accord says that if there is contradiction, then the Accord prevails. The Accord itself is part of the constitution and it creates a government led by two principals. They want to run a coalition government the way they have been running one-party governments in the past. They just want to ignore clear provisions in the constitution.

    Sunday Nation: What corrective measures can be taken?

    Raila: We must sit down and discuss. For example, the killings of the Oscar Foundation human rights activists . . . I went public and said that we need to engage the services of other institutions because the police are themselves suspects, thus our appeal to the international community.

    The US government came forward and offered assistance of the FBI working together with the Kenya Police. I wrote to the minister for Internal Security, instructing him to operationalise this offer and make it possible for the FBI officers to team up with the police. I copied the letter to the President and the US Embassy.

    To my surprise, nothing was done. Neither did the minister respond to the letter. Instead, they wrote to the ministry of Foreign Affairs asking them to respond to the US government telling them that the government had rejected the offer because Kenya had the competence and there were suspects in custody.

    I did not know about this correspondence until I learned about it from the US Embassy. That is an act of insubordination. The minister for Internal Security falls under the PM. We thought we’d find the answers in Kilaguni. We’d agreed to go to a secluded place and talk openly and frankly to each other. There was not supposed to be any media there initially. When we got there, the media was there, even the Presidential Press Unit. There was no secrecy any more.

    Sunday Nation: From your vantage point, where are we headed to as a country?

    Raila: What we are demanding is that we sit and discuss these issues frankly, to take stock of what has happened and how the management systems can be strengthened. Look at Agenda 4. We need to fast-track this agenda. I’m talking of electoral reforms, judicial reforms, police reforms, constitutional review, regional disparities – these are fundamental reforms that are lagging behind.

    Sunday Nation:What happened to the promise by you and the President to sack ministers?

    Raila: The media had its own agenda. The President said that those who were dissatisfied should quit. I had talked of ministers against whom there is proof of involvement in corruption. But again, all that kind of thing will come when we want to look at the Cabinet and we want to reshuffle. It’s not just individuals that we want to deal with but institutions. If heads roll and the system remains, even the new ones will continue to do the same things.

    Sunday Nation: What do you make of Ms Martha Karua’s resignation from the Cabinet?

    Raila: I’m on record saying that when she felt she was ineffective she had a right to resign. This is just one isolated case. You will remember that I talked of the need for radical reforms in the Judiciary, and I have said that the Chief Justice is himself an impediment to reforms in the Judiciary.

    I once suggested that we introduce performance contracts in the Judiciary, and this was resisted by the CJ. I have been on record that the entire criminal justice system – the State Law Office, the Judiciary, the Police, the KACC – needs reforms. The war against corruption cannot be won when these institutions are not working in tandem.

    Sunday Nation: When you think of the MoU you signed with President Kibaki in 2002 and the National Accord you signed with him five years later, do you get a sense of déjà vu?

    Raila: Circumstances are different this time. The MoU was not legally enforceable then. This time round, the government is entrenched in the constitution. The situation is different.

    Sunday Nation: Is the atmosphere for reform right, given how the coalition partners are treating each other?

    Raila: The only time we have achieved reforms in this country is when Kenyans have stood firm and forced the Executive to agree to some reforms. I know that we are dealing with a conservative elite that is very happy to perpetuate the status quo. My view is that it’s again time for Kenyans to rally together so that these reforms can at least be achieved. I’m ready and willing to team up with the rest of Kenyans in the process of pushing for these reforms.

    Sunday Nation: Do you regret signing the National Accord?

    Raila: I don’t regret it. It was the only option available to us at the time. People were dying. There were people hell-bent on retaining political power irrespective of the cost. Many more lives would have been lost, and Kenya would have disintegrated if I had not agreed to negotiate and eventually sign the accord. It was the best decision and I have no regrets.

    Sunday Nation: You recently referred to the 2007 elections; who won, who lost. Is that still relevant to Kenyans?

    Raila: I don’t think it is good to go back there. But I will quote Mr Kriegler (the South African judge who chaired a commission of inquiry into the disputed elections) when he came to see me in my office and prefaced our conversation this way:

    “Raila, every child and every fool in this country knows who won the election. I don’t think that it is my responsibility to tell Kenyans who won the elections. I don’t think that it is my responsibility to tell Kenyans who won or lost the elections. I don’t think that I would support the process of healing and reconciliation if I go that route. So I want to tell you that I’m not going to waste my effort going that route. My recommendations will come out in a way that is going to be supportive of the process of healing in order to avoid a recurrence of what this country went through.”

    That is what is not known to Kenyans, and that is why he came up with a winding statement that the election was too flawed to tell who won or lost. He was just playing diplomacy. It’s not that we didn’t know. I don’t want to go back to that, but when you are pushed too hard and people trash you; when you see people not accepting the Accord, you sometimes feel constrained to remind them that is where we are coming from.

    I don’t want to talk about remunerations for example. I didn’t talk about it until Muthaura went before the Akiwumi commission and talked about it. You’d ask yourself: Who sent Muthaura? How can a civil servant be talking about the salary of a PM? That should be the work of MPs at the very best. He’s just a PS. How would he get the courage to talk about government. Who is government?

    We had not discussed that issue. The other time he was talking about pecking order in government. The President, the VP and the PM. That is a big insult to the ODM fraternity. The ODM has signed an accord between two principals. How does one principal become lower than the assistant to the other principal? Those are the kind of insults that we are not willing to take.

    Sunday Nation: What’s your message to Kenyans at this point in time?

    Raila: All is not lost. I think that there is still a chance to get things going. What we are demanding right now is to have an opportunity to discuss with our coalition partners. We agreed with Kofi Annan that the President will nominate one person and I will nominate one person who will agree on the agenda for discussions and then the meeting that aborted in Kilaguni will be reconvened maybe in the course of next week, and then we will have the regular Cabinet meetings.

    We hope that we will use that opportunity to agree on how to manage this coalition on a day-to-day basis so that we can fast-track the reform agenda. Time is running out because come next year, we will be in mid-term and people will begin to think about the next elections.

    DAILY NATION - Raila: I am not willing to take insults and defiant acts from PNU partners
  10. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

    May 13, 2009
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    Obama's warning to Kibaki and Raila

    By Peter Orengo

    US President Barack Obama has issued a stern warning to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to lower the political tension and ensure none of them goes against the spirit of the National Accord as crafted by former UN chief Kofi Annan.

    In a strongly worded statement relayed through new US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, President Obama raised concern over the stability of the Grand Coalition following recent bickering and competition for important positions in Government. "The US is ready to take necessary steps should the coalition fail to implement the Annan agreement," said Mr Carson.

    Without mincing words, he said: "We came here to warn a friend about our concerns. We feel the country's stability is paramount to the region. The US is a strong partner and is ready to exercise some degree of muscle. But we will see in the coming weeks what Kenyans can do for themselves."

    Carson made the remarks at US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger's Nairobi residence yesterday, where he was with African Nations Security Council Senior Director Michelle Gavin.

    On her part, Ms Gavin said: "Obama has a deep fondness for this country for he recognises its potential for the horn of Africa's stability."


    Prime Minister Raila Odinga meets with Mr Carson who paid him a courtesy call at his office at Treasury Building, Nairobi, yesterday.
    [Photo: PPS and PMPS/STANDARD]

    She added that White House was concerned about the progress of reforms and urged Kenyan leaders to show their commitment and implement Agenda Four.

    New capacity

    Carson, a former US ambassador to Kenya, is on his first trip outside Washington in his new capacity as US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Kenya is a second stop after South Africa where he attended the swearing in of Mr Jacob Zuma as president.

    Since the signing of the peace accord, the coalition Government has been rocked by corruption and infighting between PNU and ODM.He said political tension could be a prelude to worse violence than was experienced after the 2007 General Election.

    "Political tension must not be allowed to turn into a crisis since it is not in the interest of the Kenyan people, the Horn of Africa and the world at large," Carson said.

    He warned that Kenya risks being drawn to civil war unless leaders agree to work together, adding that prevention was critical as political tension could bubble over and turn into violence as witnessed in Somalia.
    He said he had met President Kibaki, Raila, Deputy PM and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and conveyed President Obama's message - that reforms must go ahead and the Annan agreement implemented to the letter.

    Carson said: "We were received very warmly by PNU and ODM leaders and discussions were candid and forthright. We talked about corruption, reforms in the police force and the Judiciary, and violated civil liberties for Kenyans."

    Failed to agree

    He added: "All the officials we talked to gave strong indications that they were determined to make sure the reforms go through."

    The Obama administration's high profile emissary comes days after Speaker Kenneth Marende made a historic ruling after political parties in the coalition failed to agree on who should be the Leader of Government Business in the House.

    During an earlier meeting with the PM at his Treasury office, Carson and Gavin expressed "deep concerns" about the management of the Grand Coalition Government.

    Carson is said to have expressed Washington's concerns about the implementation of the National Accord.
    However, Raila assured the officials that the coalition was putting in place institutions that would deliver in constitutional, police and judicial reforms in about a year.

    Raila said in the next three months, the taskforce on police reforms would table its proposals, and they would be implemented immediately. Raila said the Government plans to return the Special Tribunal Bill to the House in the next two months to determine whether post-election violence suspects will be tried locally or at The Hague.

    Enormous concerns

    But Carson told Raila that there are "enormous concerns" in Washington that the coalition appeared lethargic and that the accord was not being implemented fully, adding that even the partial implementation of the Accord was too slow.

    "Washington's fear is that failure to implement the Accord could undermine political stability," Carson said.
    He said the US was also concerned about extra-judicial killings and impunity.He asked the Government to implement critical reforms that would ensure the country does not experience violence.

    Saying Raila has a long history of fighting for democracy and going to jail for his beliefs, Carson asked him to stand up for Kenyans.

    "This cannot be the democracy you fought for when people are killed by the State. It cannot be what you went to detention for. All the things you fought for are being thrown into jeopardy by State operatives who order execution of citizens," Carson is said to have told the PM.

    He said Washington would take stern action against people seen to be standing on the way to justice for Kenyans and those frustrating the implementation of the Accord.

    Gavin said she discussed Kenya with President Barrack last Friday, adding that he is "very concerned about the situation in Kenya".

    The two officials said Obama is keen on reforms that would address past injustices they believe were the causes of election violence.

    Raila, in response, said work to address past injustices had begun.

    "Not many people knew that there existed another Kenya. The peace that we were known for was largely a facade, built on sand. Tension always lingered underneath because a lot of past injustices had not been addressed," the PM said.
    Last edited: May 13, 2009