Forty Days and Nights of Peacemaking in Kenya

Recent studies on resolving civil conflicts have focused on the role of external actors in husbanding durable agreements. The contribution of authoritative parties is vital to the mediation of conflicts where parties are frequently too divided and where the stakes are too high to allow bilateral solutions. In the wide-ranging conflicts that convulsed Africa throughout the 1990s mediators helped the combatants to reach ceasefires and find constitutional structures that restored a modicum of stability and civility to tattered polities. More recently, electoral conflicts in Africa have emerged as new sites of external intervention, attracting multilateral and regional actors. The much-publicised cases of Kenya and Zimbabwe are instructive in this regard and constitute interesting areas of research into how external parties have tried to influence the trajectories of coalition governments.
This paper reviews the peacemaking process in Kenya after the contested and violent outcome of the December 2007 elections. After a series of false starts in early January the mediation process stabilised around an African Union (AU) Panel of Eminent African Personalities, comprising former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, and Mozambican luminary Graça Machel. In about 40 days the panel steered the parties toward a power-sharing agreement that was signed on 28 February 2008. In tracing this process I am interested in the issues, the personalities who animated the negotiations, and how the mediators (alongside other external actors) produced the power-sharing outcome. The analysis begins with a background to the conflict, furnishing brief insights into the questions that sparked the violence. This is followed by discussion of the various people who attempted to mediate the conflicts before the emergence of the panel. Subsequent sections address how the mediators engaged the parties and the process of reaching the agreement. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the role of mediators and lessons for other conflicts.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Mwai Kibaki, National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Party of National Unity (PNU)