Some very strange events took place yesterday in Nairobi.
Kofi Anan went into a meeting with Mwai Kibaki at the president’s office at Harambee house. When they emerged from the meeting it was announced that President Kibaki had completely rejected the power sharing idea floated by the International community to end the political crisis in Kenya.
Everybody seems to have missed that very significant development. Except the razor sharp alert KTN and Standard group folks. Daily Nation which has been carrying some disturbingly bizarre headlines, packaged the news differently and the headline is about Kibaki’s proposals to end the polls crisis. More on why the Nation are behaving the way they are, later in this post.
The significance of this news is that Mwai Kibaki has trashed what the entire International community is saying. The Americans are rich guys but one wonders what was the point of Condi Rice, burning jet fuel all the way to Nairobi to deliver a message that has been totally rejected without any serious consideration.
But even stranger was the reaction of ODM. The silence of the party was deafening. In fact over the last few days ODM has said very little. Why?
One theory is that the party does not want to accused of incitement or to be associated in any way to the violence that is bound to break out when news of Kibaki’s latest stand finally trickles down to the Rift Valley. Another is that they have realized that the best strategy is to led blundering Mwai Kibaki produce the rope himself and proceed to hang himself, which is precisely what is happening currently. It is increasingly clear, as Mutahi Ngunyi so aptly puts it, that this crisis is NOT about 2 people. It is not about Raila and Kibaki. Actually it is about one man. That man is Mwai Kibaki who wields all the power to end the crisis yesterday or last week.
Clearly the writing is on the wall. The talks will not work. In fact listening to Kibaki’s foot soldiers who are all saying the same thing, it is clear that PNU’s strategy is to use delaying tactics and just hold out until everybody tires and the next elections are around the corner. It remains to be seen whether this plan will work. Interestingly Danston Mungatana (who is also a lawyer by profession) says that any agreement arrived at by the peace negotiations, like power sharing, will need to get the approval of the people of Kenya through a referendum.
So what is going to happen next?
To start with I have no reason to doubt reports reaching me that there is heavy presence of the Kenya army in the Rift Valley. That means that the Kalenjin militia who the foreign press are telling us are preparing for war, will be dealt with. Only that the army is hardly trained to deal with civilian unrest. And besides it could easily degenerate into a guerrilla war which will be terrible news. Whatever the case the casualties are bound to be high.
It seems that the international community are also ready. Sample George W. Bush’s words in Rwanda yesterday;
What George Bush said;
“One of the lessons I take from the Rwanda genocide is to take some early warning signs seriously…
“Pay attention to the warning signs and prevent crises like this from happening. We are obviously trying to prevent such a crisis from happening in Kenya. Condi Rice briefed the president in her meeting yesterday (Monday), and we strongly support Kofi Annan’s efforts.
“I am not suggesting that anything close (to what happened in Rwanda) is happening in Kenya or is gonna happen, but I am suggesting that there are some warning signs that the international community needs to pay attention to. And we are paying attention to it and I know the AU will as well.”
P.S. It is said that the Nation editorial staff are under firm instructions from Paris (where the majority share holder the Aga Khan is based) to take a very low profile and to support Mwai Kibaki’s government as much as possible. That is why the headlines you see in Nation are bizarre these days.
My favourite so far is the one that talked about Anan signing a half way deal with PNU and ODM. Does anybody have any idea what that may mean? A half way deal?
Actually senior staff at the Nation group are all very jittery at the moment because the word on the street is that the Aga Khan is about to announce major changes at Nation Center. Nobody knows how major and nobody knows who is leaving and who is being promoted.
That fax could come through at any moment and on any day. Quite a terrible waiting situation to be in.