The mediators are only doing what politicians failed to do

ENYANS WILL FOREVER BE grateful to former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his team of mediators for their efforts.

Their tireless and selfless work to assist Kenya end its current political and humanitarian crisis has been extraordinary. The road has proved difficult.

Kenyans are also grateful to the international community for bringing the two protagonists, President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, to the dialogue table to negotiate for a political settlement to the crisis.

It began with the arrival of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and was quickly followed by four former presidents — Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, Botswana’s Ketumile Masire, Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano, and Tanzania’s Benjamin Mkapa.

This was followed by the then chairman of the African Union, President John Kufuor of Ghana, who subsequently dispatched Mr Annan, Mrs Graca Machel and Mr Mkapa to Nairobi.

Some Kenyan politicians claim that representatives of the international community are meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

IT MAY APPEAR PATRIOTIC TO demand that foreigners keep out of the internal affairs of a sovereign country. However, politicians know how dependent Kenya is on these foreigners, and how other nations in the region depend on Kenya.

For example, tourism, horticulture, and other industries, which depend on trade beyond our borders, are reeling under the current crisis. Thousands of livelihoods and investments in the entire region are threatened with collapse.

As the humanitarian crisis escalated, appeals for help were directed to the international community and many countries came forward with support.

It may be the nature of politicians to trivialise the suffering of their own people and play politics with the lives of those they purport to lead, but this is the 21st century and the international community will not sit back and watch this happen.

Kenya is a sovereign state all right, but in that case, political leaders should have demonstrated a capacity to manage the crisis when it erupted.

After all, the politicians must have received adequate intelligence that youths in certain regions were arming themselves and planning to displace fellow citizens from those regions after the elections.

The Government should have prevented the violent attacks and defended innocent victims from their attackers.

Instead, crime in form of murder, rape, burning of homesteads and property, looting and displacement of thousands of innocent Kenyans has persisted.

It was quite clear that the Government was unable to stop the violence and rampant violation of human rights. Leaders appealed to politicians to stop the violence but none would budge as carnage and suffering continued.

It is only when it was apparent that Kenya didn’t have the capacity to stop the violence that the international community reacted, eventually appointing Mr Annan and his team of Eminent Persons to help.

The mediators had to pressure the political leadership to appeal to their supporters to stop the violence and give dialogue a chance.

It is, therefore, unfair to criticise the international community and claim that it is interfering with Kenya’s internal affairs. Would Kenyans rather be left alone to continue destroying themselves, as well as hurting others in the region?

In Rwanda, the international community partly left politicians to sort out the mess they had created, only for a horrific genocide to occur. Subsequently, the world, including African leaders, wondered aloud why they took so long to react. Indeed, former President Bill Clinton has expressed regret that he did not move faster to stop the genocide.

This is the 21st century and the world should not stand by and watch as citizens are incited to kill and maim because politicians cannot agree on how to manage the State.

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY is piling pressure on Kenya, partly because that is what is expected of it. It has a moral responsibility to intervene where life and human rights are threatened. Furthermore, Kenya has a strategic security and economic importance to states both within and outside the region.

Therefore, to allow our egos to be offended by the involvement of the international community is only intended to give comfort to the hard-liners.

The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team requires support so that a lasting solution can be found. The responsibility of finding that solution and defining the destiny of the country lies in the hands of the two mediating teams and their principals.

It is up to these leaders to put Kenya first, and find an enduring settlement based on justice, fairness and the common good.

Prof Wangari Maathai is a former MP for Tetu, and the 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner.

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