29 February 2008

A Peace Deal at Last

Publication Date: 2/29/2008

President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga Thursday signed a historic agreement to end Kenya’s post-election political crisis.

Under the deal brokered by chief mediator Kofi Annan and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the leaders agreed to form a coalition government which will radically alter the way Kenya will be governed .

Mr Odinga is almost certain to become independent Kenya’s second prime minister after Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who held the post at independence in 1963.

Thursday’s agreement, which came after two days of intense diplomatic activity states that the post of Prime Minister will be created to co-ordinate and supervise affairs of Government. The premier will be leader of the largest party or coalition in Parliament.

Nominate deputy PM

According to the deal, both PNU and ODM will each nominate a deputy prime minister, who together with the premier, can only be removed from office through a vote of no-confidence in Parliament.

Immediately after signing the agreement, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga said they will work together to ensure that the new deal succeeds.

President Kibaki announced that the State opening of Parliament will be on Thursday, March 6, to begin the process of converting the agreement into law.

Addressing a press conference after the two leaders signed the pact, Mr Annan announced that he will reconvene the mediation talks Friday to debate how the long-term issues will be resolved. The talks were suspended on Tuesday after the negotiators failed to agree on a power sharing formula.

Mr Annan later said he decided to move the talks to President Kibaki and Mr Odinga because there was mistrust among the PNU and ODM negotiators that were hampering the talks. “The leaders were easier to deal with and they were the only ones capable of taking bold decisions to move forward,” he said.

In an interview with the Nation and NTV, Mr Annan said the mistrust had built over time... the men and women in the two teams had at one time worked together and betrayed each other.

He was full of praise for the African Union chairman, Tanzanian President Kikwete, who traveled to Nairobi to help in the mediation effort.

And in a statement released by the British High Commission in Nairobi, British premier Gordon Brown described the deal as a “triumph for Kenya and Kenyans.”

Under the deal, the Cabinet will consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the other ministers. The removal of any minister will be subject to consultation and concurrence in writing by the leaders.

It also states that the composition of the coalition government will at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance and will reflect each party’s relative parliamentary strength.

The coalition will be dissolved if the Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or if the parties agree in writing; or if one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition.

The agreement, signed on the steps of the entrance to the Office of the President in Harambee House, was witnessed by President Kikwete and Mr Annan.

The post of prime minister was briefly held by Mzee Kenyatta after independence in 1963, until the country became a republic and the post was abolished and Kenyatta became Kenya’s first President.

Disputed election

And for the first time since the disputed presidential election results were announced on December 30, 2007, Mr Odinga referred to the Head of State as “President Kibaki”.

With the agreement signed, Kenyans finally got the breakthrough they had been praying for in the two months since violence broke out after the disputed presidential elections. Over 1,010 people were killed in the violence while another 350,000 were displaced. But Special Programs minister Naomi Shabaan has since said that the numbers had reduced to about 120,000 people.

Under the new deal, parties already in Government will now be joined by ODM in a new coalition. The announcement, broadcast live on national television, sparked celebrations in some parts of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret among other major towns.

Speaking after the signing, President Kibaki thanked the international community for their efforts and support for Kenyans to reach an agreement.

He said that the Government will help those whose houses were burnt to resettle on their farms.

Mr Odinga said that in the last two months, Kenya had received more publicity in the international media more than it had done in the last 45 years.

“It has been a story of sadness. In the last two months, Kenyans have known nothing but sadness.,” Mr Odinga said.

But he added that the crisis had taught Kenyans to forge the firm foundations for a strong, united and prosperous nation.

Signing the document

What President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga agreed on

Publication Date: 2/29/2008

The following is the text of the agreement signed Thursday by President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga to end Kenya’s political crisis.

The pact was witnessed by Mr Kofi Annan, the chief mediator, and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is also the chairman of the African Union.


The crisis triggered by the 2007 disputed presidential election has brought to the surface deep-seated and long-standing divisions within Kenyan society. If left unaddressed, these divisions threaten the very existence of Kenya as a unified country. The Kenyan people are now looking to their leaders to ensure that their country will not be lost.

Given the current situation, neither side can realistically govern the country without the other. There must be real power-sharing to move the country forward and begin the healing and reconciliation process.

With this agreement, we are stepping forward together, as political leaders, to overcome the current crisis and to set the country on a new path. As partners in a coalition government, we commit ourselves to work together in good faith as true partners, through constant consultation and willingness to compromise.

This agreement is designed to create an environment conducive to such a partnership and to build mutual trust and confidence. It is not about creating positions that reward individuals. It seeks to enable Kenya’s political leaders to look beyond partisan considerations with a view to promoting the greater interests of the nation as a whole. It provides the means to implement a coherent and far-reaching reform agenda, to address the fundamental root causes of recurrent conflict and to create a better, secure and prosperous Kenya for all.

To resolve the political crisis, and in the spirit of coalition and partnership, we have agreed to enact the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, whose provisions have been agreed upon in their entirety by the parties hereto and a draft copy thereof is appended hereto.

Its key points are:

There will be a prime minister of the Government of Kenya, with authority to coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the Government of Kenya.

The prime minister will be an elected member of the National Assembly and the parliamentary leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, or of a coalition, if the largest party does not command a majority.

Each member of the coalition shall nominate one person from the National Assembly to be appointed a deputy prime minister.

The Cabinet will consist of the President, the Vice-President, the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the other ministers.
The removal of any minister of the coalition will be subject to consultation and concurrence in writing by the leaders.

The prime minister and deputy prime ministers can only be removed if the National Assembly passes a motion of no confidence with a majority vote.

The composition of the coalition government will at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance and will reflect their relative parliamentary strength.

The coalition will be dissolved if the Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or if the parties agree in writing; or if one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition.

The National Accord and Reconciliation Act shall be entrenched in the Constitution.

Having agreed on the critical issues above, we will now take this process to Parliament. It will be convened at the earliest moment to enact these agreements. This will be in the form of an Act of Parliament and the necessary amendment to the Constitution.

We believe by these steps, we can together, in the spirit of partnership bring peace and prosperity back to the people of Kenya who so richly deserve it.

Country celebrates peace agreement

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 2/29/2008

The Government and ODM Thursday returned smiles on the faces of Kenyans and a sigh of relief to the international community by signing a deal to end the two-month political crisis.

Kenyans across the country burst into celebrations after President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga signed the agreement at Harambee House.

Celebrations engulfed western Kenya following the announcement that the mediation team had reached a power sharing deal between PNU and ODM.

Crowds chanting ODM slogans poured into the streets to celebrate what they said was an end to a period of uncertainty.

On a day that would have seen the ODM supporters take to the streets in protests, it was jubilation instead.

Cars with full headlights blaring horns and draped in twigs snaked through the streets of Kisumu. While some sang and danced on the streets, others chose to ride on car bonnets in celebration.

But in the President’s Nyeri home turf, some residents welcomed the move while others accused him of betraying them.

Stick to the agreement

Kenya National Union of Teachers Nyeri branch secretary Samuel Kariuki Kanake welcomed the deal terming it the best decision the country has made in the recent past.

“This is the best decision and we fully support it,” said Mr Kanake who called the Nation Nyeri office soon after the deal was signed.

Mr James Mwangi, a consultant in Nyeri, said he hoped the leaders would follow the agreement to the letter.

“I hope this is the end of bad things for Kenya. The leaders should make sure they stick to the agreement,” he said.

However, some Othaya businessmen were unhappy.

“This is very serious. How can he do that?” asked a businessman from Othaya Town who said that by signing the deal, “the President was accepting that he had lost the polls”.

At the Coast, residents celebrated the power-sharing deal, saying it was the only way to end the crisis.

Business came to a standstill in Malindi Town last evening as residents poured into the streets shouting “Peace!” “Peace!” in celebration.

Several vehicles with huge loudspeakers mounted on them moved around the town, loud music blaring from them. The residents chanted “ODM!” “ODM!” and praised Mr Odinga for signing the deal.

In Kilifi Town, residents broke into celebrations after witnessing the signing of the agreement.

Most of the residents who followed the proceedings on television and radios in hotels, open air-markets and the Kilifi bus park broke into cheers and praised President Kibaki and Mr Odinga for their commitment to end the crisis.

Touts at the bus park abandoned their work and headed to palm wine drinking dens to celebrate. Two days of intense shuttle diplomacy by chief mediator Kofi Annan and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete targeting President Kibaki and Mr Odinga did the trick and the political agreement was signed at 5.50pm at Harambee House, which is also the office of the president.

It was the meeting of five — President Kibaki, Mr Odinga, President Kikwete, his predecessor, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, and Mr Annan – that succeeded in navigating through the six issues that had led to the suspension of talks to give Kenyans a peace deal they have been yearning for for the past two months.

Minutes before the announcement of the breakthrough, Mr Annan had stated: “We have had constructive and fruitful discussion and we have come to an understanding on coalition agreement. We are ready to sign a document at 4pm. That is when we will brief you on what we have agreed. What I can say now is that we have an agreement.”

The meeting took five and half hours in which it is understood President Kibaki and Mr Odinga closed ranks and agreed to the creation of the position of prime minister. It was based on the Tanzanian model of PM where the office holder controls and coordinates the functions of ministries in a way that his powers will not interfere with those of the President.

The two sides will also get ministerial slots on the strength of their numbers in Parliament while it was agreed that the positions of the PM and two deputies would be created through an Act of Parliament.

Append signatures

It was a sight to behold at the entrance to Harambee House when a mahogany table was brought and two red seats bearing the emblem of power strategically positioned next to it for the two men at the centre of the conflict to append their signatures to the coalition agreement.

Watching closely were Cabinet ministers, attorney-general Amos Wako, key leaders in ODM, foreign diplomats, Mr Annan and Mr Mkapa alongside scores of journalists. Hundreds of Kenyans stood on the adjacent Harambee Avenue to witness the occasion.

Mr Odinga and his team - MPs Musalia Mudavadi, Najib Balala, William Ruto, Sally Kosgei, Anyang’ Nyong’o and Henry Kosgey - arrived at 4pm ready for the ceremony. Mr Odinga had left the venue for lunch at 3pm as Mr Annan was briefing the press on the breakthrough.

President Kibaki, who arrived at Harambee House at 9am, met with government negotiators Martha Karua, Sam Ongeri, Moses Wetang’ula and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo.

Also present during the signing ceremony were Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Cabinet ministers George Saitoti, Amos Kimunya, Uhuru Kenyatta, Samuel Phogisio and Wilfred Machage.

It marked a fruitful end to a tortuous journey of mediation started by Ghanaian President John Kufuor on January 8.

Later police lobbed tear-gas canisters on a group that was celebrating the deal.

The group which had gathered at a vantage position near Harambee Avenue to follow the speeches had earlier wildly cheered President Kibaki and Mr Odinga as they signed the agreement and spoke.

They further chanted slogans in support of Mr Odinga and other ODM leaders.

The group’s shouting attracted the eyes of guests invited to witness the signing, together with former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and his predecessor Kofi Annan.

Ceremony ended

The crowd continued with their celebrations when the ceremony ended and as the dignitaries motorcades left the venue at around 6 pm.

However, hell broke loose minutes later when police, without any provocation lobbed tear-gas at the demonstrators as they scampered for safety.

March Prayer Letter

"I’m not one of your professional prophets.
I certainly never trained to be one.
I’m just a shepherd and I take care of fig trees.
But the Lord called me and told me to go.”
Amos 7:14, 15 (The Message)

I could paraphrase that to say –

“I’m not a professional missionary.

I certainly never trained to be one.

I was just a part-timer at my church and I did remodeling.

But the Lord called me and told me to go.”

My prayer letter for this month is brief. There are two things I'm praising the Lord for:

  • I praise the Lord for the continued healing of my injuries. It’s now been six months since the accident.
  • Somewhat tethered to Nairobi (with all the political unrest in Kenya), I’ve had some great times of “hanging-out” ministry at my house. I’ve hosted many friends for meals and/or overnight. Also, my old homegroup guys and I have started another fellowship group. We meet (at my house) on Saturday evenings. We’ve been discussing Tim LaHaye’s material on temperaments for the past few weeks.

There are two issues you could join with me in prayer:

  • My work permit/visa expires in May. I’ve started the process of renewing it. Such types of paperwork can be an exercise of frustration (at best) and almost futility (at worst) in Kenya! The Immigration offices at Nyayo House can seem like an unending quagmire of ever-changing bureaucracy and red-tape. Please pray that it will be granted and that it will go smoothly.
  • I’ve been asked to head up a new “benevolence committee” at my church. We have numerous regular attendees that are in need and ask for help. It’s hard to know who to help and who to turn away. This committee will provide a filter for evaluating such requests for assistance. Please pray for us as we form the group and then as we begin the process of establishing a policy to govern ourselves.

19 February 2008

Condoleezza Rice comes to Kenya

Rice with Kibaki

Rice with Kofi Annan

The following excerpts (as well as the above photos) are from the Daily Nation:

At different forums during her shuttle diplomacy one-day visit to Nairobi (Monday, February 18), Ms Condoleezza Rice met separately with President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is leading the mediation talks.

“The time for a political settlement was supposed to be yesterday and it (agreeing on a coalition) has to be urgent. The leaders (President Kibaki and Mr Odinga) have to come together and there is need to have a power sharing arrangement for the country to move forward,” she said.

She acknowledged that Kenya was an independent country governed by independent people and that the international community was only reciprocating by caring for a friendly nation.

“What we hear is the insistence by the Kenyan people that the political crisis and the violence must come to an end. We are not dictating a solution to Kenyans,” she said.

The US official was categorical that Washington and the international community had stepped in to show their concern about the ghastly state of affairs and to demonstrate their solidarity with thousands of Kenyans who were suffering.

She explained that as a member of the international community, there were certain standards which Kenya was obliged to observe and one of them was to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis and stop the violence.

“We should, as one international community, observe certain standards that have been set. We object to the use of the word ‘dictate’. It is the Kenyans people who are insisting on an end to the crisis and the international community is coming in to assist; to help,” she said.

The US top diplomat was, however, categorical that the power sharing arrangement should not be an illusion.

“The parties forming the coalition must have responsibilities and authority. The power sharing cannot be an illusion or imaginary; it has to be real,” she stated.

President Bush, she said, spoke to Mr Annan on Sunday night and assured him of US support for the ongoing negotiations to find a way out of the political crisis in the country.

President Kibaki, the envoy said, should take “last step” and agree on governance as Kenyans “want to move forward.”

Kenyans, she said, want the Government to return to “business of governance.”

On his part, Mr Annan rebuffed leaders who have been telling the
international community to stop interfering with Kenya following the disputed last presidential elections results.

“The international community is engaged; they are engaged because of their friendship for Kenya and they are here because of their solidarity with the Kenyan people and we’re all working together to ensure that we get the right results and that Kenya becomes a stable, prosperous country and the haven it has been in this region for all the countries. No one is here to dictate, but we are here in solidarity,” he said.

President Bush was criticised by PNU leaders following his proposal at the weekend that Kenya embraces a power-sharing arrangement between PNU and ODM.

Other foreign missions have also been accused of trying to impose solutions on Kenyans with Ms Karua and Mr Wetang’ula saying Kenya was not a colony but a sovereign state and that it should be left alone. The ministers said it is only Kenyans who will find a solution to the current crisis and that it should be as per the Constitution.

But Mr Annan yesterday said the search for a solution was not an individual or political party issue but Kenyans.

“People are tired, they have been traumatised and some live in fear and want the issue resolved,” the chief mediator added.

ODM is Happy with the Progress of the Talks

Raila (leader of ODM) is in the center

ODM yesterday said it was satisfied with the progress made by the Kofi Annan-led mediation team but wished the talks could be speeded up for peace to be restored in the country.

Party leader Raila Odinga said the talks were not a “love affair” between the parties involved and appealed to the Government to cooperate fully.

Mr Odinga said they had made various sacrifices for the talks to succeed and asked the Government to do the same.

He mentioned ODM’s earlier demand that the President resigns from his position but which they had since dropped.

The Lang’ata MP thanked the international community led by the US and British governments and the European Union for the support in resolving the impasse. He spoke moments after a closed-door meeting with former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at Pentagon House in Nairobi.

Latest Daily Updates (in brief)

The violence has calmed down. The highways are all open again (I think). Some of the displaced people are still in camps. Others have gone home to their ancestral land (which is too bad, in my opinion). Most schools are open and functioning.

People have been arrested that were suspected to have been involved in the violence. Calls for reforming the electoral commission continue to be voiced. The international community has been quite vocal about many aspects of the whole thing.

For the most part, things have returned to a sense of normalcy. On the downside, thousands have lost their jobs and the economy will suffer greatly. Thousands have been severely traumatized and will suffer for many months to come.

Thursday, February 7

A UN fact-finding team arrived in Kenya to collect information on suspected cases of human rights abuses. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louis Arbor, said: “Truth and accountability are of critical importance in putting an end to the violence and preventing future human rights violations.”

The European Union warned of stern measures against anyone who derails the Annan talks. “Those who will push Annan to fail will pay the consequences,” said Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner.

The UN Security Council asked Kenyan leaders to end the violence, calling it “ethnically motivated attacks. The council expressed concern at the “dire humanitarian situation”. This motivated Kofi Annan to ask both sides to compromise for a fast resolution. The talks, at one point, had turned stormy with both sides declining to cede any ground. The heated exchanges reflected deep divisions between the two sides.

February 25 has been set as the date for electing mayors. Bruising contests are expected in all of the big cities. ODM won the highest number of seats with 998 out of the 2,402 councilors elected, whereas PNU won 322.

Kenya’s leading human rights activist, Mr. Maina Kiai, called for an independent international investigation of the presidential election. His sentiments were echoed by US Congressman Donald Payne, saying, “Let me be blunt. The election results announced by the ECK do not reflect the wishes of the Kenyan people. The people of Kenya voted for change. What they got was the status quo.”

Friday, February 8

Kofi Annan, who continues to lead the ongoing National Dialogue and Reconciliation talks (along with former Tanzania President Mkapa and former South Africa First Lady Graca Machel), emerged from a meeting with Kibaki and Raila and announced, “We have reached far on the political issues. We have agreed that a political settlement is necessary and we’re discussing the details. We are making progress and we are asking for a little patience.”

The ban imposed on public gatherings (after the disputed Presidential election) was lifted. It was said that a review of security in the country had concluded that the situation had improved sufficiently to lift the restriction.

Monday, February 11

The Kenya Tourism Board chief executive stated that Kenya’s tourist arrivals dropped by nearly 90% in the month of January.

Tuesday, February 12

Elected Members of Parliament were briefed regarding the positions adopted by the two mediation teams during the Speaker’s “Kamukunji” (an informal gathering of the lawmakers). Annan stated, “A coalition government is an open option when a country is in a crisis and right now we are faced with a serious political crisis. The two sides come together and commit to sort out issues, such as constitutional reforms and then organize an election. The country is deeply divided… and our duty is to bring the parties together to work closely to heal the underlying problems.”

Two suspects, who were being held by police in connection with the recent killing of Mugabe Were (one of the two MPs recently murdered), were released.

Wednesday, February 13

The negotiation teams, along with Kofi Annan, started a 48-hour retreat away from Nairobi. The purpose was to thrash out the thorny issue of possible power-sharing.

Kenya’s National Council of Churches admits that they failed the country at its hour of need by practicing partisan politics leading up to the recent election. They asked their followers for forgiveness.

Britain’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Adam Wood, states that his country does not recognize Kibaki as Kenya’s president. He went on to say that the current Kenyan government does not reflect the democratic will of the people.

Thursday, February 14

The UN gives the green light for its staff to resume operations in the Kisumu area. It had been classified as a “no-go zone” since early January, due to the severe violence that region experienced.

Just prior to leaving for his tour of Africa, US President George W. Bush states that his country supports the efforts of Kofi Annan to end Kenya’s crisis. He said, “There must be an immediate halt to violence, there must be justice for the victims of abuse, and there must be a full return to democracy.” He expressed optimism that the mediation talks will bear fruit.

Friday, February 15

The mediation teams’ talks ended in acrimony. Both teams flew back to Nairobi to discuss the latest developments with their respective leaders. Annan, briefing the media, stated, “I will stay as long as it takes to get the issue of a political settlement to an irreversible point. I will not be frustrated or provoked to leave. It is in the interest of the men and women of Kenya, the region, Africa, and the international community to have a new government.”

Annan went on to state that it’s normal for negotiations to go at a slow pace because of the fears that the two parties hold against ceding ground to the needs of the other. “I know you have been waiting to hear that we have a deal. I understand that you are eager, but against this let me advise patience. We are at the watershed and normally it is frightening to take some steps. I am confident that, in the interests of Kenya and its people, the parties will show the wisdom, flexibility, and foresight to conclude an agreement.”

So far, the two teams have agreed to the following:

1. The creation of an Independent Review Committee to investigate all aspects of the 2007 presidential election and make findings and recommendations to improve the electoral process.

2. A political settlement is necessary to manage and implement expeditiously a broad reform agenda that will address the root causes of the crisis and deepen and broaden Kenyan democratic foundations, including:

a. Comprehensive constitutional reform

b. Comprehensive electoral reform

c. A truth, justice, and reconciliation commission

d. Prosecution of perpetrators of the violence

e. Respect for human rights

f. Parliamentary reform

g. Police reform

h. Legal and judicial reforms

i. Commitment to a shared national agenda in Parliament for these reforms

3. Long-term issues and solutions are fundamental to a viable long-term solution to the crisis. These include:

a. Consolidating national cohesion and unity

b. Land reform

c. Tackling poverty and inequality

d. Tackling unemployment

e. Reform of the Public Service

f. Strengthening of anti-corruption laws

The main outstanding issue is that of governance arrangements. The parties discussed the matter intensively and have developed a number of options.

The talks are going slower than everyone had hoped. They ended on Thursday in a deadlock, but resume today. Citizens are hopeful for a resolution, as the pain of the murder sprees are still very fresh in everyone's minds.

Other Recent Developments

Nigerian Diplomat
Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji from Nigeria is expected to arrive today (February 19) to assist former UN chief Kofi Annan in the mediation efforts. Mr Adeniji is a former Nigerian minister and UN official.

Human Rights Watch
The African chapter of the Human Rights Watch has said a political agreement in Kenya was a step forward, but politicians must take immediate steps to ensure accountability for human rights violations for further negotiations to build lasting stability.

The group said that the country’s record of impunity for past episodes of political violence, particularly during the 1992 and 1997 elections, had directly contributed to the current crisis.

At least 1,000 people have died while 350,000 have been displaced by violence following the controversial December 2007 presidential elections.

The violence has, however, turned away from the election and is now more between communities, with past injustices such a land grabbing and inequality taking centre stage.

Human Rights Watch researchers in Kenya were earlier reported to have documented several patterns of serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings and excessive use of force by the police.

They also reported ethnic-based attacks and reprisals by militia groups on both sides of the political divide.

08 February 2008

Another Grandbaby!

I have exciting news! Jess and Jason are having a baby! What an answer to prayer! You can get caught up with them by clicking the link in the right-hand column. Be sure to leave them a comment!

I got seventeen Christmas cards this year! It was fun to hear from many of you. Fifteen of them were from the US, and believe it or not, three of those did not have the correct postage! Amazingly, they were still delivered halfway around the world for only 42 cents.

Keep the cards coming throughout the year, but please be sure to affix the proper amount of 90 cents!

The Guys

This is Sam, Kim, and Mike - three of my really good friends. We've recently started a fellowship group that meets at my house on Saturday evenings. We've now met two times. We really enjoy one anothers' company and we all love to discuss God's Word.

Recent Daily Highlights

Picking up where I left off last time, the following are highlights of the past few days:

Monday, January 28

Mediator Kofi Annan spelled out the terms of reference and agenda for the peace talks: an end to the spiraling violence, solving the Presidential election results, and crafting long-term solutions to glaring inequality in the country.

Death toll from ongoing violence throughout Kenya rose 115 in the past three days.

Thirteen lorries transporting goods were set ablaze. Five Easy Coach buses were burned. The transport sector has faced a crisis, with gangs of youth barricading roads and destabilizing the flow of goods and persons in parts of the country.

Learning in Nyanza Province now on its knees as the majority of schools in ten districts are yet to open for the first term.

Tuesday, January 29

ODM Member of Parliament, Mugabe Were, was shot dead outside his Nairobi home in the wee hours of the morning. As this news was reported, protests erupted in some parts of the country. Tension was high in parts of Embakasi (his Nairobi constituency) where residents demonstrated and torched kiosks. Kibaki called the murder “a heinous crime”. Raila said, “This is an assassination and there can be no doubt about that. How can the police term it a normal criminal act without any investigations being carried out?” Friends and colleagues described him as “humble, principled, focused, reserved, and humane”.

Police fired several times in the air as they dispersed groups of youths armed with guns and crude weapons as tension gripped Kibera, a sprawling slum. Two photo-journalists escaped death by a whisker after they were shot at by the youth. Tension was high in the slum and its environs after the killing of Were, who was shot nearby at Woodley estate.

The European Union warned it will review its relations with Kenya if a solution to the current political crisis is not found.

More than 10,000 teachers in the country cannot teach due to the ongoing violence.

Wednesday, January 30

Relief efforts by United Nations agencies and their partners have been hampered by recent cases of heightened insecurity in parts of the country. The organization’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, said he was deeply concerned about the situation in Kenya.

Leading scientists are among hundreds of professionals evacuated in Kiambu District, as rowdy youth tried to raid top research institutes.

Thursday, January 31

A 2nd ODM politician, Kimutai Too, was shot dead in Eldoret (along with a female in his company). The death sparked riots in opposition strongholds as the country continues to reel under post-election violence. Ten more people were killed. Police described the shooting as a “crime of passion” and immediately arrested a police officer. ODM insisted it was yet another political assassination, part of a plan to reduce its majority in Parliament.

PNU and ODM negotiators give hope to millions of Kenyans by agreeing that the violence must end in seven days.

The US State department said it is reviewing its allocation of “several millions of dollars” in non-humanitarian aid to Kenya.

Bus companies consider cancelling services to and from Western Kenya and Uganda as insecurity escalades along the route.

Violence in Naivasha, Kenya’s key flower-producing town, threatens the industry in the key period before Valentine’s Day. Just 30% of workers turned up at the flower farms today. Kenya is the leading exporter of cut flowers to Europe, providing over 25% of stems sold there. Currently the industry is the 3rd highest foreign exchange earner after tourism and tea.

Kenya’s political crisis dominated discussions as the African Union Summit opened in Addis Ababa, with UN chief Ban Ki-Moon warning of catastrophe. “Violence continues, threatening to escalate to catastrophic levels,” Mr. Ban said.

Friday, February 1

Three key issues were agreed upon that could see Kenya return to peace. PNU and ODM teams agreed to hold joint rallies to stop the escalating violence and restore basic human rights and civil liberties. They agreed there should be freedom of assembly, expression, and press to help end political turmoil. Long-term issues and solutions including undertaking legal reforms, tackling poverty and inequity, unemployment, consolidating national cohesion and unity, land reform, and addressing transparency, accountability, and impunity are to be agreed on within a year.

World attention turns on Kenya as the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, arrives in Nairobi to bolster Mr. Annan’s peace efforts. The high-level attention Kenya is being showered with at its moment of tragedy, is coming from a global community that sat and watched as Rwanda experienced genocide in 1994, that left nearly one million dead in 100 days of sheer terror.

Former African National Congress of South Africa party leader, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, arrived in Kenya at Kofi Annan’s invitation to be added to the Panel of Eminent African Leaders that are mediating talks with the two Kenyan parties. He is a highly respected peace mediator.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. Ross Hynes, announced that his country would be reluctant to issue visas to Kenyan government officials to travel to Canada.

ODM wants the United States’ FBI to investigate the deaths of two of their MPs. They were shot dead in a span of 36 hours. Opposition leader, Raila, said the party had no confidence in Kenyan security forces, terming them partisan.

Sustained post-election violence in the multi-ethnic and expansive Rift Valley province is threatening the lives of millions of residents whose economic mainstay is agriculture and tourism.

Saturday, February 2

Amnesty International wants Kibaki and Attorney General Amos Wako directly petitioned over threats made to a number of leading human rights campaigners in Kenya. The human rights and pro-democracy activists “received a number of anonymous threats, including death threats, in the past two weeks.” All, except one of the activists are from one ethnic group. The threats they’ve received include accusations that they are “traitors to their ethnicity”.

Pineapples and other produce go to waste on the coast. There are very few buyers for the fruit following the cancelation of supply contracts by tourist hotels, as the number of tourists coming into the country plunge. On the other hand, Nairobi’s 800 restaurants and 40 small caf├ęs face a shortage of potatoes because of the violence that has crippled Rift Valley province. The violence also portends grave prospects for the pyrethrum industry (used to make insecticides).

Sunday, February 3

About 300,000 Kenyans are still sheltering in at least 44 makeshift camps one month after the disputed presidential election sparked violence and riots in Kenya. Estimates indicate that 2/3 of these people, living in inhuman conditions in these camps, are women, children, and young people.

The displaced people are telling tales of shattered lives and dreams. The huge numbers have over-stretched the sanitation facilities at the camps and there are fears of disease outbreaks. There is a high rate of prostitution in the camps. The scorching sun by day and the buzzing sounds of mosquitoes by night are their daily struggles.

ODM takes issue with Kibaki’s remarks at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. Kibaki said that the problems in Kenya could be resolved locally and that ODM was behind the violence, which he added was premeditated.

Police are preparing charges for 1,700 suspects in criminal acts linked to post-election violence.

Dairy farmers in the North Rift have incurred losses running into millions of shillings because they cannot deliver milk to processing plants, due to fears that their vehicles will be damaged in riots.

Monday, February 4

PNU and ODM mediators agreed on major steps aimed at resolving the political crisis. Among the key issues was setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, encourage and help displaced people to settle back in their homes and have safe passage and security throughout, and ensure freedom of expression, press, and peaceful assembly.

The government lifted the ban on live media coverage.

Kenyatta University opened today, postponed for one month due to the situation in the country. Most schools in Nyanza district opened, although the turnout of students was low. Many teachers reported to work.

Tuesday, February 5

Kenya’s top CEOs warned that the economy might grind to a halt after a month of post-election violence. Already the country has lost 40-50% in manufacturing and the tourism industry is on its knees.

The Kenya Red Cross has called for better management of efforts to assist those that were displaced. The organization is finding it difficult to reach all of them because they are spread in so many camps throughout the country.

Wednesday, February 6

Police arrest 26 gang members who have been harassing women in Naivasha since the town was rocked by violence. The gang forces women in trousers to “dress properly”.

Thursday, February 7

The US imposes travel bans on five Kenyan politicians and five prominent businessmen suspected to be involved in the post-election violence. The visa ban also applies to their immediate family members.

Kenyan police charge one of their own for two murders during the violence and chaos in Kisumu. His actions, caught on film, were broadcast around the world. The number of deaths is now said to be 1,000.

Interesting Quotes on the Current Situation

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“For the nation to live, the tribe must die.”

Samora Machel, Mozambique’s President between 1975-1986

I gathered the following quotes primarily from the Daily Nation (the newspaper that I read in Kenya):

Kenya's poor are the ‘explosive dispossessed’, ready to erupt into violence.”

Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society in London

"I cannot state with certainty that Kibaki won the election."

Kivuitu (Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya)

Kenya has been operating pretty much like a pressure cooker. That it has finally come to this impasse is evidence that you cannot sweep every issue under the carpet and expect the rubbish to sit there quietly. It will turn toxic in the long run, as we have learned – not for the first time. We just never seem to learn from our mistakes, which we almost fondly refer to as ethnic clashes.”

Lucy Oriang’ (regular columnist), January 11

“The immediate challenge the education sector has to confront is displacement of learners who have been cut off from their schools. In other words, the environment for systematic and coordinated learning has been disrupted irreparably.”

Martin Kajwang’ (curriculum expert), January 12

“The generally peaceful and orderly voting process, and the record voter turnout, was a triumph for the Kenyan people, but the serious flaws in the vote tallying process damaged the credibility of the process. At that point Kenyan institutions failed the Kenyan people.”

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Dr. Jendayi Frazer

“Is there any doubt that the killings in various parts of the country are eerily reminiscent of the crimes against humanity perpetrated in this country in the 1990’s? That is why I still lament the refusal in 2003 by the Kibaki government to establish a truth commission, the only vehicle that could have led our nation to openly address those abominations to avoid their recurrence.”

Makau Mutua, Chair of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, January 13

“There is much to be angry about and many of us find the rage difficult to contain. And yet, this is precisely the time to live up to the higher purpose of the human being. There is a savage that lurks deep in all of us and there are times when that savage rises to the surface and is expressed in violent forms.”

Sunny Bindra (regular columnist)

“It is hard to believe that there are people who are ready to kill you because you don’t speak with their accent or have blood links with them or have chosen to live in ‘their’ area.”

Gerry Loughran (regular columnist)

“It is not that African leaders cannot unite their ethnic communities. It is simply that too many of them choose not to, because it serves their narrow self-interests to keep the people divided.”

Ken Kamoche (frequent columnist)

“More than anything else, this election was seen by the poor and the marginalized as the one that would address past injustices and regional inequalities. In essence, the violence that erupted after the elections was a class war – one in which the impoverished masses took up arms against all those they thought represented the interests of the ruling class, in this case, some of their neighbors, regardless of their political affiliation and despite the fact that some of these neighbors were as dirt poor as they were.”

Rasna Warah (frequent columnist), January 14

“We are seeing a creeping regression to the totalitarian methods of the past. The government is going out of its way to curb the inherent rights of the people to associate, express themselves, communicate, and assemble.”

Macharia Gaitho (regular columnist), January 15

“… this is the Kenya we keep under wraps. Every now and then, we allow ourselves to see it. If it doesn’t affect us directly, we march on without missing a beat. We choose to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil as long as it does not take up residence in our house… A problem postponed doesn’t vanish into thin air. It will return to haunt you as surely as day turns into night.”

Lucy Oriang’ (regular columnist), January 18

“The negotiated solution to this crisis must take account of past failures and seek to prevent future conflict… The frustrations felt by so many Kenyans are understandable. There is no doubt that much more remains to be done for Kenya to become a more equitable and democratic society. But Kenya has come too far to throw away decades of progress in a storm of violence.”

US Senator Barack Obama (whose father was a Kenyan), January 23

“Conflicts are painful and they leave very deep wounds. Let your wounds bleed and then you heal. In the process of healing, seize the opportunity to build a society of justice… This is not an ethnic conflict. It is about inequality and about exclusion.”

Mrs. Graca Machel, former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa, January 25

“What we saw was heart-wrenching. We saw houses burning, grandmothers and children being pushed out of their homes, and people suffering everywhere. What we saw today was rather tragic.”

Kofi Annan (after touring some of the violence-struck areas in Rift Valley province, January 26

“What is presumed to be the ‘Kenyan nation’ is in fact a loose assembly of diverse and dissonant groups of ethnic communities with conflicting political, economic, and social interests. The constitution fails to recognize this fundamental reality and therefore remains irrelevant in resolving tensions that emanate from a clash of ethnic interests… Kenya is currently bleeding from very old wounds that badly need a balm. The post-election violence is symptomatic of a deeper malaise. The violence expresses political, economic, social, and spiritual wounds. Let us not fear to lance the boil and halt current and future blood-letting in Kenya.”

Frederick Iraki (associate professor at USIU), January 27

“We want to exhort Kibaki to come out of State House and tackle the unfolding crisis. He cannot keep quiet while the country is burning.”

Daily Nation editorial, January 29

“We must debunk the myth and fantasy of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous nation. We must confront the reality that ours is a volatile, inequitable society, with deep ethnic odium. The current crisis presents a historic opportunity, a tipping point or threshold. There is a cathartic streak about the post-election violence. In a gruesome way, the crisis is a kind of purging, cleansing, and emptying of the bowels of ethnic hatred that could lead to a redressing of socio-economic inequities. The hundreds dead did not die in vain. In death, they have something to say to every politician who has fed us on the stale bread of ethnic vitriol and the rotten meat of tribalism. They have something to say to every Kenyan who embraces the tyranny of tribalism and rejects aristocracy of merit, equity, and socio-economic justice.”

Dr. Alex Awiti (post-doctoral fellow at Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York)

“This is not about who won or who did not win the presidential election. It is not about who is responsible for organizing or fueling the violence. This is about the simple and indisputable fact that, whatever the circumstances of his victory, Kibaki now occupies State House and owes this country a responsibility. Granted the legitimacy of his presidency is in question, but nobody is better placed than he to deal with the daily slaughter of innocent Kenyans and the rancid climate of ethnic distrust. For now, he controls the instruments of State. If then there is a government in place, why has the situation been allowed to get out of hand? The killings and evictions in northern Rift Valley province, the revenge attacks in Nakuru and Naivasha and the ethnic fighting in Nairobi slums all indicate an abysmal failure of government.”

Daily Nation editorial, January 30

“This is a case of emergency where certain things have to be done very quickly to stop the killings. There’s no time to go into niceties and debates when the killings are taking place.”

Rwanda President Kagame (heads a nation recovering from a 1994 genocide that claimed nearly a million lives in three months)

“There can be no healing and reconciliation unless and until the truth is laid bare and justice is administered. This time round, let Kenyans not sweep tribal clashes, demonstrations, murders, rapes, and destruction of property under the carpet. Let the truth be known! Only when the truth is known and justice is received can anxiety be reduced and the wounds begin to heal. Only then can reconciliation start and people begin to look into the future with hope.”

Wangari Maathai (2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former member of the Kenya parliament), January 31

“At the last count, more than 800 people have died and another 300,000 have been displaced. Millions of others have been mentally and emotionally displaced and they no longer know what to make of the day’s developments. How do we mitigate the effects of the emotional fallout that Kenya is experiencing right now? What is the price of a human life? How do you tell an orphaned child that she will experience great hardship in life because her parents were burned to death for belonging to a particular ethnic group?”

Lucy Oriang’ (regular columnist, Daily Nation), February 1

“Wherever the two leaders look, they are going to see a united international community saying sit down and deal with each other and stop this before your country spirals out of control.”

Lord Malloch-Brown (UK Minister for Africa, Asia, and the UN)

“If we keep the pace, the long-term issues will take less than a year. The time table is, however, one year. What is at stake is not individual interests, otherwise we will destroy Kenya.”

Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General, conducting mediation talks with PNU and ODM)

“It has to stop.”

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon (he repeated this crisp message, referring to the post-election violence, three times upon his arrival in Kenya)

“Crises, tragic as their consequences may be, are always accompanied by lessons that have to be learned. The current chaos means that Kenyans will not be the same again, for it has brought into sharp focus illnesses that afflict the nation. The country cannot move forward without urgently addressing the fragile State institutions, gender inequality, ethnicity, class, corruption, politics of winner-takes-all, constitutional review, need for political change, and a new democratic order that will undertake fundamental reforms, top among them the demarginalization of the youth.”

Cabral Pinto (frequent columnist, Daily Nation), February 2

“Displacement breaks up families, cutting important social and cultural ties; affects and even terminates stable employment relationships; precludes or forecloses formal education opportunities (especially for children); deprives infants, expectant mothers and the sick of access to food, water, adequate shelter, or vital health services, and makes the displaced especially vulnerable to act of violence such as becoming the target of attacks at the camps. Thus, the displaced have special needs to be addressed by both governments and the rest of the international community.”

Richard Bosire (political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi)

“As we search for solutions, it is time we give names, faces, and identity to people killing and being killed. It is a tragedy when people are killed because the police suspect they were going to burn property, and it is a catastrophe when we shy away from identifying the names and tribes of all the protagonists and victims. Part of Europe wanted to behave the same way on the killings of the Jews until states legislated to make denial a crime. Do we want legislation to force us to do the same? We cannot move on until we face the brutal truth as it is. The death of any Kenyan – whether Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Luo, or Luhya – carries the same weight. No tribe is superior or has the monopoly of political hegemony. The church in Kenya has no moral integrity to guide us. Church leaders have taken sides and are demanding that we maintain peace and move on. Kenya deserves peace, not mere peace, but peace based on the truth, justice, and equity.”

Donald B. Kipkorir (prominent Nairobi lawyer)

“Let’s face it, these gangs are the product of desperation among the youth, who have no future and couldn’t care less for anybody’s life. Denied an honest livelihood, they are easy prey for political manipulation and brainwashing by the key players in the dirty game of political vendetta. The ferocity and ruthlessness with which innocent people have been hacked to death across the country points to pent-up hatred in the murder squads. This hatred is explained by these gangsters loathing of a system that has failed to address their poverty. The killers, sadly, have a grudge against society as a whole and against anybody perceived to be better than them. Poverty dehumanizes, which explains the beastly manner in which the recent killings have been executed.”

Dorothy Kweyu, (journalist)

“Vernacular radio stations that air comments referring to communities as ‘baboons’, ‘weeds’, or ‘animals of the west’ are being singled out as a partial cause to the ethnic bloodletting in Kenya. You’ll hear things like ‘let us remove the weeds from our crops’ or ‘let us remove the spots amongst us’. Because of believability of radio amongst locals, it becomes very easy for people to take up what is said on radio and believe it as a form of gospel truth.”

Caesar Handa (executive director of Strategic Research)

“It was catastrophic. The brutality exhibited was only reminiscent to horror movies.”

A resident of Naivasha, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals,

Kenya has 42 tribes so that each one can seek God in their own language and so they can each be represented around God’s throne.”

Bishop Adoyo (Nairobi pastor and bishop, heard on a Christian radio station), February 3

“Even as the gangs continue to barricade major highways, drag passengers out of vehicles, and hack them to death, the Commissioner of Police, Major General Hussein Ali, has on several occasions insisted that the force is not overwhelmed by the situation.”

Dominic Wabala (writing in the Sunday Nation)

“Through our actions in the last 30 days, we have all but destroyed our social fabric, and all our institutions lie discredited and dishonored.”

Mumbi Ngugi (an advocate of the High Court, writing in the Sunday Nation)

“I thought Kenyans were God-fearing. I now see that they are merely church-going. Which set of religious beliefs can allow you to pick up your panga and attack your neighbor and turn him into pieces of meat? How is it that people who sing hymns every Sunday have turned into blood-crazed savages who burn churches if they harbor the ‘wrong’ people? Can we not hear their screams? I may be very confused but one thing I do still understand: If we are all going to shrink back into tribal enclaves, on the ground and in our minds, then we can kiss goodbye the dream of ever being a ‘first-world’ country. I thought we were a country that thought big. It seems that what we really think is pathetically small. We never really left our villages; we never really want to sit with anyone but our immediate cousins. We wish to think amongst our kinsmen and breed within our hamlets.”

Sunny Bindra (regular columnist with the Sunday Nation)

Nigeria’s leader came to power in a violent and fraudulent vote, yet he’s been accepted on the international stage. It’s no wonder Kenya’s president felt able to rig his re-election.”

Kenneth Roth (director of New York-based Human Rights Watch)

“I invite you to unite with the brothers and sisters in Kenya, some of whom are present here in St. Peter’s Square, in prayer for reconciliation, justice, and peace in their country.”

Pope Benedict, during his weekly Angelus blessing

“This place is hell on earth. Even after losing all our belongings, some marauding gangs are still following us inside the police station, threatening. All of us lack food, medicines, toilets, and water. We’re sleeping in the open where we are at the mercy of mosquitoes and the biting cold. Almost all the children are coughing, while most of us require drugs to treat various ailments.” / “I lived in Thika for more than 20 years, but after receiving death threats from colleagues whom I have known for a long time, I decided to flee.”

Willis Onyango (camp spokesman) and Elijah Odek (staying at a police station in Thika district), illustrating the fear, misery, despair, and untold suffering thousands of displaced people are experiencing

“Resolving the current crisis is not about individuals. It is not about Raila or Kibaki, but about strong institutions that will ensure the country will not have to return to this kind of crisis every couple of years.”

Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General, conducting mediation talks with PNU and ODM), February 5

“Differentiation through ethnicity has always existed in Africa and humans have a universal propensity to form collective identities, to distinguish outsiders from insiders, along ethnic lines… Manipulating ethnicity for political gain is a dangerous game, however. In its half-century of independence, sub-Saharan Africa has been scarred by multiple internecine conflicts, many of which could have been wholly avoidable.”

Donald Mogeni (Nairobi consultant)

“I call upon the global village to condemn the diabolical and barbaric ethnic warfare being unleashed on children, the lame, women, and other innocent people.”

Letter to the editor, February 6