George Kegoro and Ndungu Wainaina: Is mediation effort failing to enforce and inform?

We would like to draw attention to the diminishing interest in— and stature of — the National Dialogue and Reconciliation mediation process.

Last week, for instance, the negotiators skipped meetings with mediators and the entire process seemed at risk of being derailed or abandoned.

As part of our mandate to provide oversight on governance and human rights issues, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), issued an audit of the mediation process in early February.

In our second report, KPTJ, a coalition of governance, human rights and legal organisations formed around the post-elections crisis, wish to point out three key concerns about the process: The lack of information, poor follow-up on peace items and political disinterest in long-term issues.

Information blackout

We are concerned by the lack of information or public engagement with the mediation process.

This is in sharp contrast to when the process was under the leadership of Dr Kofi Annan. Then, regular media briefings kept the public informed and gave them a sense of ownership. These briefings also helped to maintain discipline on the part of negotiators.

Action: Mediators should resume regular briefings and consult with as many individual citizens and civil society organisations as possible on the substance and the process of the mediation.

Such briefings and consultations are the only means of engaging the public, in whose name and interest talks are being conducted in the first place.

Lack of follow-up

Disinterest in following up on agreements reached under Agenda Item 1 is worrying.

The parties agreed to end violence; secure transport infrastructure and disarm all militia groups. Whereas violence has ceased and the transport infrastructure is open, there have been few publicised and successful attempts at disarming militias.

This process is possibly unpalatable to politicians, some of whom are believed to be responsible for their establishment in the first place. However, there can be no true peace unless such groups are permanently demobilised.

Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration are an essential parts of peace-building. Different forms have been tried in conflict situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia and Sierra Leone — all of whose experiences Kenya can and should draw upon.

Action: Mediators should demand and publicise a progress report from security agencies on the implementation of the decisions reached under Agenda Item No. 1. It should also establish an independent and accountable framework for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of all militia.

Weak political support

There is an apparent lack of political support for the long-term issues being addressed under Agenda Item No. 4. This was manifest in the strained negotiations on the formation of a Cabinet between the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Party of National Unity-led coalition.

The drawn-out struggle for power was a shocking display of insensitivity in the face of the real needs of the country, the most urgent of which is the resettlement of internal refugees.

The assumption of normalcy, the proposal to form a bloated government in a country with limited resources and the lack of concern about internally displaced persons (IDPs), were all signs of the absence of political support for the resolution of long-term issues.

Action 1: It is not possible for the country to address the long-term issues that have emerged unless a dedicated and deliberate capacity for doing so is established. There is, as yet, no agreement on how exclusion and inequality will be addressed. There is no mechanism for the resettlement of IDPs or for the adjudication of competing claims over land in those parts of the country where such claims exist.

The political leadership has exhibited a propensity to dump all complicated or unpalatable problems on the proposed Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). But it is not the place of the TJRC to resettle IDPs or adjudicate over land claims. To claim otherwise, besides being untruthful, is to illustrate the desire on the part of the political leadership to abandon the search for solutions.

We demand that action on IDPs be prioritised. At the same time, the problem of landlessness in the areas where IDPs moved from should also be attended to with similar urgency. A programme similar to the one of resettling IDPs should be put in place awaiting permanent solution to long term issues.

Action 2: The mediation process should result in agreement on how historical and contemporary claims over land will be adjudicated. The adjudication mechanism should have the power to make enforceable recommendations for redress and reparations.

Such a mechanism will enable restitution of the right to private property and the right of people to live in any part of the country, both of which have come under question as a result of the political crisis arising from last year’s disputed presidential election results.

We call on all Kenyans to insist on accountability from the mediation process, and to insist that our political leadership continue to be accountable on decisions reached by the mediation process.

We also ask them to continue to engage with the mediation process in the search for lasting solutions to give us peace rooted in truth and justice.

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice

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