Kenya: Uhuru, Raila Truce Puts Spotlight On Envoys' Role to End Crisis

President Uhuru Kenyatta greets the visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at State House in Nairobi on Friday.

Friday's truce between political arch-rivals President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga has rekindled the role of the international community, which has in the past midwifed political deals.

The diplomatic missions in Nairobi, mainly the European and US ambassadors, with the help of Kenyan religious leaders and the business community, were on the forefront in helping the country find a solution of the political stalemate.

The talks happened as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in the country and is scheduled to meet President Kenyatta.

Mr Donald Yamamoto, the acting assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, has said although the US is not ignoring the Opposition, Mr Tillerson is not expected to meet with Mr Odinga.


Even though the diplomats have always taken the precaution to speak in groups, they did not escape accusations of bias and preference of either of the dominant political formations, Jubilee and the National Super Alliance (Nasa).

Their final statement in February pronouncing that any dialogue can only be held on a basis that recognises Mr Kenyatta as the validly elected President of Kenya was outrightly opposed by Nasa.

In the statement, they also rejected the Opposition's mock swearing-in of Mr Odinga as the "people's president", and further criticised Jubilee's excesses of switching off television signals as isolated illegalities.


The talks between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga were the culmination of other failed attempts to get the two to directly engage.

The two, multiple interviews revealed, had agreed to meet but disagreed on having electoral justice on the agenda.

They eventually agreed to begin talks in the deal mostly pushed by the international community, business, religious and community teams, assembled by diplomats.

It is believed US ambassador Robert Godec was the major force behind the dialogue push.

At one point, Mr Odinga asked Mr Godec and other 10 envoys to keep off Kenya's political affairs after calls that he should accept the legitimacy of President Kenyatta.


The Opposition had even planned to lodge a formal protest with the US Senate over Mr Godec's "profound vendetta" against Mr Odinga but the State Department through Amanda Jacobsen, spokeswoman for the department's Bureau of Africa Affair, declared that he had their support.

The US government is not known to be planning his replacement even though Mr Godec's tenure now exceeds that of most of his recent predecessors.

This was not the first time Nasa and the West had disagreed over Kenya's recent political developments.

In the days before Nasa decided challenge the result of the August 8 election last year at the Supreme Court, the UK, the US and the European Union exerted pressure on the opposition leaders to seek a solution in court rather than mass protests.

The Opposition had also claimed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was being influenced by foreign envoys in the run-up to the October 2017 repeat presidential poll.

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