Ramaphosa summoned by Annan to help in Kenya

Prominent South African businessman and former political negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa was expected in Kenya later on Friday to help mediate in talks between the government and opposition aimed at ending a month of post-election violence.

Former trade union leader Ramaphosa led the African National Congress (ANC) in negotiations with the National Party to end apartheid in the early 1990s.

He also oversaw the drafting of the country’s 1996 Constitution, hailed as one of the world’s most progressive.

His skills as a negotiator have taken him to Northern Ireland in the past to oversee the peace process in the British province.

Despite quitting politics for business in 1997 after losing the race to succeed Nelson Mandela as president to Thabo Mbeki, he is still a member of the ANC’s top body.

Ramaphosa’s intervention in Kenya came at the request of former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, who has been leading mediation efforts between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Several other former African leaders, including former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, have also been lending a hand in the talks.

More than 800 people have been killed in mainly ethnic violence following disputed presidential polls on December 27, in which Kibaki claimed victory but the opposition claims was rigged.—Sapa-dpa

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