Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has been mediating peace talks in Kenya, said Friday that the two rival political parties have agreed to reach a political settlement as early as next week. Renowned Kenyan Professor Ali Mazrui tells VOA that many Kenyans welcome the progress.
President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have reached an agreement to settle their differences through political means, according Mr. Annan. This decision was reached after weeks of international mediation to stop the post-election violence in Kenya.
“We are all agreed that a political settlement is needed,” Annan said. “We are now in the process of discussing the deals, working out the terms of that settlement.”
Kenya’s main opposition party, Orange Democratic Movement, claimed foul as soon as Mr. Kibaki was announced to be the winner and was quickly sworn to office to lead Kenya for the next five years. This sparked a widespread violence between political and ethnic groups claiming the lives of as many as a thousand and displacing more than a quarter of a million people.
“There is a lot of optimism. People are inpatient for a breakthrough,” says Ali Mazrui, director of global studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton speaking about hopes of reconciliation in Kenya. “I was exited myself earlier when I heard a breakthrough was achieved. But Kofi Annan is a hard headed pragmatist so he must make sure the facts are correct before making an announcement.”
Professor Mazrui says he has proposed to Kenya’s political leaders to form a French-style government of unity. “I have proposed to both sides, a prime minister answerable to parliament which could be occupied by Raila if a settlement is reached.”
This way, Mazrui says Kibaki can keep his presidency and the opposition can also share power.
However the chief mediator Kofi Annan has said the details of the settlement still need to be worked out.