In Summary
  • Each side took a hard-line stance, with Raila’s ODM refusing to recognise Kibaki’s victory.
  • The Tanzanian leader says it was the decision of his successor Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to sidestep Mr Ruto and Ms Karua that broke the deadlock in the talks.

  • He says ODM and PNU teams could not agree on almost anything until Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki were hoarded into a room with only the negotiators,

Dar es Salaam,

Former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa has said locking out Mr William Ruto and Ms Martha Karua from the post-elections violence mediation team in 2008 helped secure a power-sharing agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.

Violence erupted after the December 27, 2007 elections where the incumbent, Mr Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU), was declared winner of the presidential vote, results disputed by Mr Odinga and many other observers.

BELLIGERENTS

In his book, Mr Mkapa also reveals how Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni nearly rocked the mediation boat as wealthy Kenyans piled pressure on the negotiators and belligerents for an agreement. 

The talks would eventually lead to the signing of the National Accord and subsequent formation of a government of national unity – also known as the Grand Coalition Government.

Mr Mkapa recalls that Mr Ruto of ODM, who is now Kenya’s Deputy President in the Jubilee administration, and Ms Karua of PNU, now Narc Kenya leader, “were the most difficult people to deal with”.

He says the two politicians often exacerbated tensions during the talks.

“The atmosphere changed when we got Kibaki and Odinga together without Karua and Ruto present,” Mr Mkapa says in his memoir My Life, My Purpose. A Tanzanian President Remembers.

The book was launched in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

It recounts the intrigues that characterised the 39-day mediation that was chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who died in August last year.

In his book, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, Annan also dedicates a chapter to Kenya’s post-election violence.

OBSTINATE

The book says Mr Kibaki’s negotiating team was more obstinate than Mr Odinga’s during the talks.

Contacted, Mr Ruto told the Sunday Nation: “Kenya has moved forward.”

Ms Karua, a former Justice minister, said: “Let him (Mr Mkapa) have fun.”

Apart from the two, others in the negotiating team were Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Dr Sally Kosgei and Mr James Orengo for ODM.

The PNU side was represented by Prof Sam Ongeri, Mr Mutula Kilonzo and Mr Moses Wetang’ula.

Mr Mkapa described the Kenyan experience as his toughest mediation assignment outside his country, where he navigated talks in 2000 to block attempts by Zanzibari president Salmin Amour to extend his stay in office for a third five-year term.

INTRANSIGENT

Mr Mkapa’s account of his mediation in Kenya and later in South Sudan as well as Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is captured in chapter 15 of the book under the title ‘Pseudo Retirement’.

The Tanzanian leader says it was the decision of his successor Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to sidestep Mr Ruto and Ms Karua that broke the deadlock in the talks.

He says ODM and PNU teams could not agree on almost anything until Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki were hoarded into a room with only the negotiators, who included Graça Machel, the wife of former South African president and freedom icon Nelson Mandela.

Mr Kikwete had just assumed the chairmanship of the Africa Union from Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who first steered the talks in Kenya before Annan was asked to step in by the UN. 

Before then, Mr Mkapa says in his book, the ODM and PNU sides were intransigent as they argued fiercely about who won the election and thus deserved executive control of State levers.

It was particularly difficult for ODM to accept Mr Kibaki as president of Kenya.

“We would meet each team separately, then together. When together, they would have fierce arguments. Sometimes I thought they would literally go for each other’s throats,” the former Tanzanian president says nearly 12 years after the deadly events that almost tore Kenya apart.

MUDDIED

“Ironically, if matters got very heated, we would adjourn to have coffee and stroll outside together, where they would mix as if they were compatriots or even friends, conversing easily and sometimes laughing.”

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