Talks aimed at ending the political crisis in Kenya arising from the December 27 election have entered a crucial phase. During the past two weeks both sides have been locked in discussion. Both sides have accused each other of rigging the December vote, allegations that have triggered unrest has laid bare deep divisions over land, wealth and power that date from British colonial rule and have since been stoked by politicians. Kibaki, 76, was officially declared the winner of the December 27 presidential election that the opposition said was rigged. International observers also found flaws in the tallying of ballots. It is estimated that fighting between tribal supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga has already resulted in the deaths of more than 1000 people.
Former UN chief Kofi Annan, who is mediating talks between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Kibaki, has urged Kenyans to be patient. "In negotiations, a deal is not a deal until it is done," the former UN chief cautioned in a statement. "While the talks are making progress, they have not come to a definite conclusion." Annan, says one of the solutions to resolve Kenya's post-election crisis could be to form a grand coalition. Annan said this while briefing members of Kenyan parliament on the progress of the talks in Nairobi. "Grand coalitions have served other nations well and these are often formed when a country is in crisis," the former UN secretary general told a parliament session. "They come together to try to work out the fundamental issues, make constitutional and other changes required and then eventually organise an election," he said.
In a strongly worded statement, the UN Security Council demanded an end to what it described as ethnically motivated attacks in Kenya. Riots and ethnic attacks uprooted about 300 000 people, many living in squalid conditions and fearful of returning home. This has shattered Kenya's image as a stable business, tourism and transport hub.
Meanwhile young Kenyans had much to say about the issues facing them. They emphasized that this is not a tribal war; it's about injustice, which must be addressed. Their statement said, “On the dawn of December 27th 2007, millions of Young Kenyans woke up as early as 4am. They walked long distances, braved the long queue, and cast their ballot. Over 65% of registered voters spoke with a loud voice through the ballot. On 31st of December, that same democratic right was raped, shattered and manipulated. The youth of Kenya are concerned as the current political; social and security situation affects them the most. The hundreds of lives lost so far are largely those of youth and children. The hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons do not have anything to do with the political aggression.”
The youth maintain in a statement that the critical issues are:
“The suspension of democracy in Kenya Cheating the electorate out of their choices
Rubbishing the ballot as a means for peaceful change and Suspending our rights and freedoms as citizens of the republic of Kenya. We refuse to accept that peace is merely the absence of war. The true meaning and sense of peace is in the knowledge that there will be peaceful, lawful and just management of conflict and that constitutionally granted rights and freedoms will not be suspended arbitrarily by an individual or cartel of individuals.”
The African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL) – Religions for Peace an organisation engaged in various peace efforts made a call to religious leaders to go out publicly and demand an end to violence from the two main political rivals, Raila and Kibaki. The Religions for Peace ACRL notes that the violent situation-which includes loss of lives, destruction of property, despair, and displacement of people is fast disintegrating into one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in the history of Kenya. The Council appeals for humanitarian assistance to those areas and persons who have been affected.
The Religions for Peace ACRL calls for:
1. all religious traditions to mobilize their spiritual, moral, and social assets to mobilize to end the violence and care for the displaced, the wounded, and all those affected.
2. to reach out to one another to seek political solutions to the current situation and to stand together to end violence and begin a process of national healing and reconciliation.
3. the religious leadership in Kenya to work together for peace, show leadership and give moral direction to a nation in crisis.