13 October 2012

Kenya: Why Kibaki Snubbed Kofi Annan

PRESIDENT Kibaki's confidants advised him not to meet Kofi Annan this week in Nairobi because they claim he is biased.

On Thursday the former United Nations Secretary General warned that electing either Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta or Eldoret North MP William Ruto as president would complicate Kenya's foreign relations.

Annan has been in Nairobi this week with former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa to assess Kenya's preparedness for elections in 2013. Annan was the chief mediator in 2008 in the negotiations after the post-election violence that led to the establishment of the coalition government.

Five senior Kibaki confidants privately told the organisers of Annan's visit that there was no reason for Kibaki to meet Annan "since his mission ended four years ago".

"The general feeling around the PNU side of the coalition was that Annan had overstayed his welcome to Kenya. Each time he came he seemed to be closer and more comfortable with Raila's side of the coalition. He also has been behaving like Kenya's prefect," said one adviser.

"In any case, he wanted to know how government was preparing for elections. The Prime Minister is the coordinator of all ministries and we believe he must have briefed Annan on the progress so far. So we asked the President to concentrate on other important national issues," said the official in the Office of the President.

Speaking as he left on Thursday afternoon, Annan said he and Mkapa had expected to meet Kibaki when they arrived on Monday. Initially they were told that Kibaki was unavailable because he had gone to Uganda for the 50 years of independence celebrations. They had then expected to meet him on Thursday but they received no word from State House.

Presidential Press Services boss Isaiah Kabira told the Nation that the Head of State had a busy day on Thursday chairing a Cabinet meeting that had to approve 14 bills.

On Wednesday met Prime Minister Raila Odinga, commission chairmen, and civil society leaders to discuss among other things the upcoming elections.

Kibaki's advisers were also unhappy that Annan had refused to meet Uhuru yet he met Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi who are both campaigning for the presidency.

"Why was Uhuru left out of the itinerary yet he is a serious presidential candidate? Why did Annan meet Raila, Mudavadi and Eugene only and not Ruto, Uhuru and other presidential aspirants? We can only conclude that there are people he favours," said assistant Agriculture minister Kareke Mbiuki, an ally of Uhuru.

Yesterday Uhuru told TNA aspirants gathering at Kasarani that foreigners should not meddle in the Kenyan elections. He said he would accept the voter's verdict.

His comments were echoed by political consultant Tony Gachoka who has worked with Uhuru in the past. "The judiciary under foreign directives cannot block Uhuru and Ruto from running for office. Let the people decide," said Gachoka.

"Uongozi mwema (good leadership) can only come though universal suffrage and not through a court bench of three sitting in judgement on leadership and usurping the will of the Kenyan people," said Gachoka.

The presidential advisers also privately accuse Mutunga of "meeting and entertaining foreigners who want Uhuru and Ruto barred from contesting the presidency".

Mutunga met Annan this week and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July. Both leaders praised the ongoing reforms in the judiciary. Kibaki's advisers have become increasingly uncomfortable with the pronouncements being made by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

This week Mutunga said that Kenyans should review the Matemu and Baraza rulings if they wanted to know who would pass the integrity test.

Mutunga was referring to the recent High Court decisions in August and September that nullified the appointment of Mumo Matemu as the chair of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the decision of the tribunal recommending the removal of Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza.

Mutunga's comments indicate that the courts may take a tough line in the case challenging the integrity of Ruto and Uhuru. The ruling is expected later this month and will determine whether they will be eligible to contest in the presidential election in March.

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