28 February 2008

Kenya back from the brink?

I'm listening to the BBC World Service as details of a political settlement in Kenya are emerging. If it's true, it sounds like a momentous agreement:
- An executive prime minister, appointed by parliament not the president
- A 50-50 split of cabinet ministers between Kibaki and Odinga supporters
- Best of all, an end to violence, if each side calls off their respective armed thugs

Having taken a Harvard course in 'Negotiations', I'm fascinated by the brinkmanship that led to this agreement, but I shudder at its human cost. If such an agreement had been made last month, over a thousand lives could have been saved. But then again, if the opposition had just let Kibaki get away with rigging the election, they wouldn't have got the agreement in the first place. Is this deal the beginning of a better Kenya? Or is this a flawed agreement, an old-fashioned division of spoils, power-sharing just a cover for business as usual?

For insight, I turn to two deeply committed, thoughtful friends. Wangari Kebuchi is a fellow student, a Kenyan in the USA. Jon Yates is a former colleague, a Brit working in Kenya for the Acumen Fund. Their witty comments are spiked with anger, but also optimism. Let's hope the putative agreement and its implementation justify it.

No comments: