ODM and PNU negotiators under the chairmanship of Mr Kofi Annan (centre) pray at the beginning of Wednesday's session at Serena Hotel, Nairobi. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA (NMG)
Surprise, surprise as the season of climbing down reaches Kenya at long last
After last night’s ‘burning midnight oil’, Kenya Government aka PNU have this morning in principle agreed to the formation of the position of the prime minister’s post, according to sources close to the mediation team. Reuters have also published the news here.
While going for a break last evening, most of the negotiators declined to talk to the press who have for the last one and a half months set up permanent camps outside the Serena Hotel where Kofi Annan resides and where the mediations talks are being held. William Ruto, however, could not help it, but flash a wide grin! Last evening session which went on to this morning was primarily to discuss the contentious PM's post.
Mediation teams ‘held by the balls’ – literally
The detail are still sketchy but it is not lost on observers that US President George Bush has spoken about the Kenyan Crisis at nearly every press conference he has addressed ever since he arrived in Africa on February 15th. More importantly, Secretary of State Condi Rice visited Nairobi on orders from her boss and held meetings with both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. Rice is said to have privately reprimanded Kibaki and issued an ultimatum that the US President wants to see an agreement reached before he departs the African continent. Bush is due to depart Africa today 21st February 2008 after visiting Liberia, his last stop of the African tour. Will a deal be reached today?? Probably. Listen to this: “We all want a peaceful Kenya, so let us all agree on a common agenda for our country. This is the reason I want us to work with even those we competed with in the last general elections,” said President Kibaki.
Interestingly, in a classic case of ‘you scratch my back and I scratch yours’, diplomatic sources in Nairobi reveal that following Secretary Rice’s visit to Nairobi, the dreaded visa bans imposed on Martha Karua and William Ruto have now been withdrawn from the list that included who-is-who is Kenya's lucrative political and business circles. Whether this was a precondition of reaching an agreement as demanded by the international community remains unclear. The visa ban threat had affected power brokers within government so much so that two teenage children of a powerful cabinet minister were reportedly ‘deported’ back to Kenya from their US universities last week.
Back to the creation of the Prime Minister’s post, it will be interesting to find out if PNU has bowed to pressure and accepted ODM’s demands for a PM’s post with executive powers.
If this is the case, Kenya's next parliament session will be interesting to watch because, for instance, Kalonzo Musyoka (and his ODM-K brigade) will cease to occupy the leader of government business seat and give it up for the in-coming Prime Minister.
More updates on this later.