In Summary
  • Formally, the negotiations were known as the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR).

  • Mr Annan was leading the African Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities.

  • As the talks dragged on ordinary Kenyans continued to be killed or driven from their farms and businesses.

“We do have a deal.”

These were the memorable words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the steps of Harambee House on that February 1, 2008 afternoon after days of marathon negotiations between PNU and ODM that ended the close to two months of fighting and the untold human suffering.

The Serena talks, as they were informally known, had dragged on as PNU and ODM negotiators held firm their positions after the disputed December 2007 presidential election.

Formally, the negotiations were known as the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR).

Mr Annan was leading the African Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities that also included former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa and former South African First Lady Graca Machel.

KILLINGS

As the talks dragged on ordinary Kenyans continued to be killed or driven from their farms and businesses.

The deal, which Mr Annan announced as the chairman of the Africa Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities, therefore came as a reprieve not only to the ordinary Kenyan who had borne the brunt of neighbours turning against neighbours but also to the country’s economy which had been badly battered in the course of the nearly two months of violence.

Eventually, KNDR gave birth to the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement (National Accord) which was signed in Nairobi on February 28, 2008.

NATIONAL ACCORD

The National Accord had four main agendas namely: Agenda Number One which called for immediate action to stop violence and restore fundamental rights and liberties, Agenda Number Two on immediate measures to address the humanitarian crisis, promote reconciliation, healing and restoration, Agenda Number Three on how to overcome then political crisis, and Agenda Number Four which was looking at long term measures and solutions such as constitutional, institutional and legal reforms, land reform, poverty and inequity, unemployment particularly among the youth, consolidating national cohesion and unity and transparency, accountability and addressing impunity.

A decade after the violence broke out Agenda Four item still remains a major talking point.

INCLUSIVITY

“The idea of Agenda Four was that ten years later people should have seen more inclusivity, non-discrimination and all those things that people were at the time unhappy about. Agenda 4 was for the obvious reason that Kenya’s electoral problems were symptoms of the deep seated entrenched historical inequalities,” says Ms Florence Simbiri-Jaoko, who at the time of the violence was the chairperson of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

“As far as inclusion and cohesion unfortunately the country is so polarised. How tragic that ten years down the same script of citizens killed for protesting electoral malpractices has played again as though we were ‘celebrating’ (pun intended) the 2007 PEV,” added Ms Jaoko.

The elements that formed Agenda Four — constitutional, institutional and legal reforms, land reform, poverty and inequity, unemployment particularly among the youth, consolidating national cohesion and unity and transparency, accountability and addressing impunity — were to address what the Serena team identified as underlying causes of the 2007/08 post-election violence.

REFORMS

While a number of reforms have been undertaken including promulgating what has been hailed as one of the most progressive constitutions in 2010, Ms Jaoko says a lot still remains to be done.

“There is so much that remains to be done. People are more polarised than ever before. Institutional reforms have stalled due to lack of leadership and political commitment to the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” she said.

That polarisation has been exacerbated by the recent presidential elections on August 8 and the repeat one on October 26.

After the Supreme Court nullified the August 8 election, the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) called on their supporters not to participate in the repeat election on October 26. As a result, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cancelled voting in at least 25 constituencies citing violence.

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