Wednesday, February 27

Kenya talks

Kofi Annan, getting frustrated with the lack of progress in negotiations between the two sides in Kenya's political crisis, decided to suspend the talks last night. He said he's going to talk with Kibaki and Odinga about how to move forward, although he'd just met with each of them on Monday and that didn't seem to help things much. The opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has planned mass demonstrations for tomorrow (WP). Here's a look at the words that are going around:

Kofi Annan: "The talks have not broken down. The leaders have to assume their responsibilities and become directly engaged in these talks." (AFP)

Condoleezza Rice
: "I am disappointed by the failure of leadership necessary to resolve all the remaining issues. We will draw our own conclusions about who is responsible for lack of progress and take necessary steps. I want to emphasize that the future of our relationship with both sides and their legitimacy hinges on their cooperation to achieve this political solution. In that regard, we are exploring a wide range of possible actions." (AFP)

Mutula Kilonzo, government negotiator: "We felt that we were being pushed and pushed, which is not fair in negotiations. We felt that we were being rail-roaded"(AFP). "These are constitutional issues that have taken the country over 15 years to resolve. We cannot entrench them without seeking the views of millions of Kenyans in a referendum" (Standard). "Our international friends ... are welcome to make suggestions to support the dialogue process, but not impose solutions and should take care not to legitimize or reward violence, death and destruction" (Reuters).

Musalia Mudavadi, ODM negotiator: “We have been extremely frustrated. There are moments we believe we have made ground, but we realize the following day that there is a reversal” (NYT).

Onyang' Nyong'o, ODM Secretary-General: "We do think that the spirit of power sharing should mean sharing of executive powers, and sharing that power to the highest level. And we made a very constructive proposal that the head of the executive is the president and the prime minister should share those powers. And that the president as the head of state to be given certain executive responsibilities, particularly in reference to defense and foreign affairs, just like in France, and then the prime minister should drum the government from day to day basis.... We don’t feel they are as serious as a genuine negotiating partner on the part of the PNU" (VOA).

Salim Lone, ODM spokesman:
"We've always been afraid that the whole plan of the government is to drag this thing out until passions have calmed to a level they can control. But this is a flawed strategy because Kenyans are not about to allow a stolen election to stand." (FT)

Ochieng Mbeo, ODM spokesman on planned protests: "Lives will be lost. But what else is left for us? Do we sit back and say fine, and let it be?"(WP)

Marc Malloch-Brown, UK minister for Africa: "We're going to have to stop the violence. The Kenyan military is by far the best option. The question is, can the army be brought in in a non-divisive way?" (Guardian).

Richard Dowden, Royal Africa Society: "The army has always been non-political. It's very professional, it does a lot of peacekeeping, it's trained by the Brits, it's a regular contingent in UN forces. The last thing they would want to do is step in. But the bigger danger to them is that as this gets more ethnic and tribal, a middle ranking officer finds his grandmother has been killed and takes off, and once bits break off, the whole army unravels. The whole army holding together as a non-ethnic entity is the last barrier between Kenya and complete meltdown."

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