Annan mediator tells off minister
Published on May 23, 2008, 12:00 am
By Alex Ndegwa and Beauttah Omanga
Chief Mediator, Prof Oluyemi Adeniji, told off Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Moses Wetangula, for suggesting that the Eminent African Personalities team should leave the country.
Adeniji responded strongly to the minister’s remarks that the team mediating the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee talks should pack up and go because they had finished their work.
In an exclusive interview with The Standard at Nairobi’s Serena Hotel, the venue of the stalled talks on Thursday, Adeniji said he was not a “refugee”.
“I’m not a refugee. I haven’t come to Kenya to seek political asylum, nor am I an economic refugee. In fact, I have another job waiting for me,” Adeniji said in a reaction to Wetangula’s remarks.
The former Nigerian Foreign Affairs minister, who took over chairing of the talks from former UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, retorted: “We have got homes to go to.”
Om Wednesday, Wetangula said the team had finished its brief and should, therefore, leave the country.
“I honestly feel that whatever is remaining should be left to Kenyans,” Wetangula, who is a member of the negotiating team, said.
The war of words came on a day outgoing UK High Commissioner, Mr Adam Wood, warned that any further delay of talks on the crucial Agenda Four — tackling long-term issues — would not be taken kindly by Kenyans and the international community.
On Thursday, Adeniji spoke of frustration in steering the talks, and said ministers should not use the prevailing calm to disregard the importance of concluding discussions on Agenda Four.
“Some of them (Cabinet ministers) act as if it is no longer necessary. Agenda Four is the most crucial because it addresses long-term issues to ensure what happened in Kenya doesn’t recur,” he said.
Adeniji acknowledged that the talks had slowed down partly because all the negotiators were in the Cabinet, but cautioned them not to use the excuse to evade the discussions.
Negotiators in cabinet
“I have been a minister myself and I know what ministerial responsibilities involve. But I would like to remind them that they can only exercise that responsibility if there is peace,” he said.
PNU negotiators are Cabinet ministers Wetangula, Ms Martha Karua (Justice and Constitutional Affairs), Prof Sam Ongeri (Education) and Mr Mutula Kilonzo (Nairobi Metropolitan).
ODM is represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Local Government minister, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr James Orengo (Lands), Mr William Ruto (Agriculture) and Dr Sally Kosgei (Higher Education).
Adeniji said people had the tendency to “feel relaxed” once they had been hauled out of a difficult situation.
Asked whether the team should be replaced, Adeniji replied: “That’s not for me to decide. But I know at the time of appointment to the negotiating teams, some were ministers while others were not.”
He said problems in the country were an open secret that had continuously been ignored and the public wanted a firm commitment this time round that they would be fixed.
“We don’t expect to stay here until implementation because that would take a lot of time, but at least there must be commitment to implement what is agreed upon,” he said.
Adeniji said the controversial call for a blanket amnesty for youths arrested during post-election violence had not cropped up at the Serena talks.
Earlier, Wood asked negotiators to sustain the talks’ momentum to reach agreement on the way forward for the coalition Government.
“The talks are a means of sorting out the pending questions and concerns in Kenyans’ minds,” said Wood, who spoke when he paid Mudadavdi a courtesy call.
The envoy expressed concern over the delay to conclude the talks, saying it had become a matter of concern to Kenyans and the European Union.
However, Mudavadi said the talks were on course and disclosed that they were to resume today morning.
“We will resume today morning to focus on Agenda Four,” said Mudavadi.