Kenya today – mixed signals (links & quotes)

It’s hard to know what to think. We are getting lots of mixed signals. One minute we are told a deal is close. The next, we are told that hard-liners are regrouping, the talks are about to break up, and “mass action” will resume next week.

From all I can gather, in the grand scheme of things, the sides are not actually that far apart. They surprisingly agree on almost all the big issues, but seem to be fighting over its short-term implementation (who has the power in the meantime).  I suspect that if the circumstances were just slightly different, the exact same people would be arguing the exact opposite position they are now. The Nation spells out the details of their disagreement here.

More Commentary and Background Here:

Suffice it to note that both the PNU and ODM negotiating teams have so far succeeded in making a complicated job nearly impossible. From outside looking inside, it is more about egos and sibling rivalries. Each side is too careful not to be seen to have been the first one to blink.

Besides, one team has been in power for two months now, thanks to an election outcome the other side claims was fixed. On the other hand, the Government side is reluctant to bow to pressure from an opposition it accuses of instigating killings, looting and burning of property, plus mass displacement of perceived PNU supporters.

In other words, the holier-than-thou attitude pervades both sides.

Still, we continue to hope. Other quotes from yesterday found in the first article referenced above.

President Kibaki:

“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 the President.

Koffi Annan’s spokesperson:

“Despite discouraging reports prompted by statements from one side or the other, the chair (Mr Annan) wishes to assure the public that the talks are going on well and we are on track,”

Negotiators:

Members of the mediation team William Ruto and Mutula Kilonzo exuded confidence and determination that the talks were progressing well as they emerged from the meeting at 11am and at 4.57pm.

“We are progressing well and we intend to burn the midnight oil to reach an agreement,” said Mr Ruto. On his part, Mr Kilonzo commented: “We are doing well.”

There was still no agreement this morning.

No one wants to think about what could happen if the talks fail. It’s seems like militia groups and gangs are still recruiting and arming in the bush. I think Bush had it right when he said in this statement from Rwanda.

“One of the lessons I take from the Rwanda genocide is to take some early warning signs seriously,” he [Bush] said at a press conference in Kigali.

“Pay attention to the warning signs and prevent crises like this from happening,” he said adding, “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.”

So Koffi Annan!! Why Annan won’t let Kenya go to the dogs:

OTHER QUOTES:

The Rev Njoya – the retired moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa

“It is good that our national leaders are talking to one another. But it is the common people who perpetrated the violence and those who bore its brunt should be talking to one another first. That is the first step toward finding a lasting solution to the problems that plague this country,”

Meanwhile in the slums, gangs are taking over.

Deep inside kenya’s biggest slum, Kibera, criminal gangs have taken over. Armed with all manner of weapons – guns, machetes and clubs – the gangs have “demarcated” the slum into what they call jimbos (regions).

Is famine on the way because of the insecurity?

“Unless the insecurity is addressed, and resettlement and recovery interventions are carried out, the national food supply will be dented significantly,” says the report released last week.

We can always pin our Hopes on the US Presidential race:

“Now we are praying for Obama’s success… even if we never get a Luo in Kenya’s State House, we may have one soon in the White House”.

A displaced refugee rides bike 200km to rejoin wife and family sent ahead to safety with the last of his money

Okaka completed a 200km journey from Afraha Stadium in Nakuru where he had been camping with his family for more than three weeks to Kisumu in 13 hours. . . . on his ten-year-old bicycle, christened “Thiringinyi” (Luo for a ‘thorough machine’).

“When I heard on the radio that the two main teams had not agreed, I knew a problem was brewing,” he said. “I resolved to move my family to a safer place.”

“During the ride, I was scared but I prayed and asked God to see me through the journey and to take care of my family,” he said.

He came across vehicle shells that had been burnt during the violence and this scared him stiff. Okaka, however, admits that at times he walked. At one point, he tugged on the back of a lorry as he cycled to save energy.

“I had no money and survived on water,” he said. “When I arrived in Kipkelion, armed youths confronted me. They asked for my ID and where I was going. When I told them my plight, they gave me Sh50.”

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