Kenya was tottering on the brink of collapse after the controversial 2007 presidential election. In less than three months, over 1,300 lives had been lost in post-election chaos and the country was gradually disintegrating as the centre could not hold.
President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s ODM were locked in a bitter and protracted contest over who had won the election. Kenyans were deeply divided on tribal lines and the hatred was palpable. Over 500,000 Kenyans were uprooted from their homes and their lives turned upside down.
As it were, there seemed to be no hope of bringing back sobriety. Then Kofi Atta Annan, the former United Nations Secretary General, appeared on the scene. He led marathon negotiations that came to be known as Serena Talks between representatives of the protagonists. On February 26, 2008, Annan made the all-important announcement: “Kenyans, we have a deal.”
There was a huge sigh of relief from war-weary Kenyans and hope of peace was restored. Yesterday, Dr Annan breathed his last. He was aged 80. As Ghanaians and the world mourn the man, Kenyans will celebrate this great African who braved seemingly insurmountable di erences, to bring us to the negotiating table and solve the electoral dispute. Now that he is gone, Kenyans must refl ect on the lessons learnt and go back to the drawing board.
Indeed, in one of his quotes, Annan said, “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” In the aftermath of the Kibaki and Raila truce, the Grand Coalition Government was formed and Kenya experienced progress. However, there are issues that were glossed over like the Agenda Four items.
What progress have we made in making our elections transparent and believable? What has been achieved from the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation report? Have we reconciled Kenyans such that not even a highly competitive presidential contest can break us up? We must revisit all these issues now. Dr Kofi Atta Annan, RIP.