Where could Annan team be hiding for their secret talks

As the Kofi Annan mediation team left Nairobi for a "secret location" and imposed a 72-hour news blackout on the critical phase of the talks, the race was on to establish just where in Kenya the team would be getting away from the world's attention.

In a press statement, the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation group of Annan, Graca Machel and Benjamin Mkapa invited negotiating teams to "resume their discussions outside of Nairobi with the goal of reaching an agreement on the outstanding political issues in the next 48 to 72 hours."

The team was expected to leave Nairobi yesterday to its hideout where there will be total blackout of the talks.

The former UN chief took the drastic measure "to ensure confidentiality" as the team grapples with the legitimacy of the current administration that has been challenged by the Opposition.

Yesterday, the smart money was betting that the retreat was at the Hilton Hotel's Tsavo Salt Lick Lodge in Tsavo National Park.

The team is said to have eyed the lodge as a unique resort - built atop stilts overlooking a waterhole for Kenya's majestic wildlife.

The lodge is situated within Hilton's own private wildlife sanctuary adjacent to the national park, has 96 guest rooms and has recently expanded its bar, restaurant and public areas.

Tsavo National Park also has another lodge - Voi Safari Lodge - which has 52 rooms. The park also has several tented camps with rooms and beds.

Getting to Tsavo East National Park from Nairobi, one has to pass Voi. There is however another route directly from Mombasa via Manyani Gate. Approached from Malindi, one has to pass via Sala Gate. There are six airstrips in the southern part of the park and 13 in the northern part.

There are no scheduled flights to the park but chartered light planes can be used. This provides the perfect environment for a "total blackout" of the talks or a meeting requiring similar treatment.

The other place touted as a possible hideout for the Annan Team was the Petley's Inn - a sister to The New Lamu Palace Hitel in Lamu town on the seashore. The inn which has 11 self-contained rooms and all top amenities including cable/satellite TV.

Also touted as an ideal hideout for the team was Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa.

Taking a shot at possible hideouts, event organisers The Energy Source said one of the best places to hold a hush-hush meeting would be Kongoni resort in Naivasha located in very private and in a secluded area.

The company also identified Nakuru as an ideal place for such a meeting citing its proximity to Nairobi where the team has been sitting.

Another company In Sync Limited also identified Naivasha as an ideal place for such talks.

However Naivasha and any hotel or lodge in Nakuru and Western and Nyanza parts of the country are said to have been ruled out owing to the recent political clashes in those regions.

In the Annan's team of mediators are former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa and Dr Graca Machel, the wife of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela.

Negotiating on the Government side are Justice Minister Martha Karua, Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri, Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo and Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula.

On the ODM side are Pentagon members Musalia Mudavadi and William Ruto, and MPs Dr Sally Kosgei and James Orengo.

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