Kenyan leaders under pressure to resume talks

Kenyan leaders were on Wednesday under pressure to resume talks on forming a coalition government in a bid to end a devastating political crisis, a day after hundreds demonstrated to demand a new Cabinet.

The much-delayed unveiling of a national-unity government is a key step in implementing a power-sharing deal aimed at quelling the deadly violence that broke out following Kenya’s disputed December polls, killing at least 1 500 people and displacing hundreds of thousands.

Many Kenyans have already reacted angrily to last week’s announcement that the feuding factions had agreed on a 40-member Cabinet — a number of portfolios the country’s wobbling economy can ill afford, many observers argue.

The lengthy disagreement over the attribution of key portfolios has fanned popular anger, and on Tuesday hundreds of protestors chanted some of the same slogans heard during opposition marches in the immediate aftermath of the December 27 elections.

Newspapers renewed a call to President Mwai Kibaki and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga — slated to be prime minister — to agree on the Cabinet composition in the spirit of the power-sharing accord that was mediated by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan.


The two leaders have failed to agree on sharing the Cabinet, notably the ministries of justice, interior, foreign affairs, energy and local government.

“The disagreement goes to the question of whether the proposals made by the partners follow the letter and spirit of the national accord, and whether any of the parties has backed away from concessions, frustrating efforts to make progress,” the Standard newspaper said in an editorial.

“Consensus is still possible on the most difficult of issues preventing the announcement of a new coalition government,” the daily added.

But Odinga has said he will only resume talks with Kibaki after he replies to a letter sent on Monday demanding dissolution of the current 17-member Cabinet and 50-50 sharing of Cabinet posts, notably infrastructural and administrative portfolios.

The Kenyan crisis erupted after Odinga accused Kibaki of stealing presidential votes.

On Tuesday, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the feuding leaders “to implement real power sharing by agreeing on the composition of their coalition Cabinet.”

“Both emphasised to me their strong commitment to do so,” Rice said in a statement. The European Union made a similar call, while Canada said its bilateral support to Kenya will be pegged on the implementation of the power-sharing accord.

Church and civil groups have threatened mass action if the pair fail to reduce the new Cabinet to 24 members, arguing the country could ill afford a bloated government. — AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday