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Western powers crafted coalition option: Miguna

Thursday July 12 2012

US ambassador Michale Ranneberger and Prime

US ambassador Michale Ranneberger and Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressing a press conference. Mr Miguna alleges in his book that Mr Ranneberger convinced Mr Odinga to accept “departments” in the coalition. PHOTO/ FILE 

By TIM WANYONYI [email protected]

The grand coalition government idea was imposed on President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga by foreign powers, the Prime Minister’s former aide claims in his book.

The United States and Britain used Mr Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general who was the chief mediator in the Kenyan dispute, to impose the power sharing solution.

Mr Miguna Miguna, who was Mr Odinga’s adviser on coalition matters before falling out with him, accuses the Prime Minister of abandoning the ODM position, going into the peace talks, and embracing the coalition government idea.

Mr Miguna says he was a member of the negotiating team before being elbowed out by Mr Caroli Omondi, the Prime Minister’s private secretary and chief of staff.

“He (Raila) decided — without explanation or reason to go for a coalition government, which was what Annan had announced as the ‘best way forward’ upon his arrival in Nairobi, before he had even held meetings with the parties. This ‘grand coalition’ idea didn’t emanate from the parties or from the process, it was probably manufactured in Washington or London and delivered by Annan to Kenya; another dubious foreign experiment on Africa!”

Mr Miguna says that Mr Annan was not chosen by the two parties to the dispute but by the Americans and Britons with the backing of John Kufuor, the former Ghanaian president who was then chairman of the African Union.

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“His (Annan’s) name was first suggested by the US and UK administrations; and had been backed by Kufuor because they were both Ghanaians. Essentially, Kibaki and his PNU cohorts had been bludgeoned into accepting him grudgingly.”

Mr Odinga’s and ODM’s position before Annan arrived was that there should a presidential rerun, Mr Miguna writes in his book Peeling Back The Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya.

‘’Even as we go for mediation, Pentagon should not forget that Kenyans voted for change. Anything short of a rerun will be a fraud...’’ Mr Miguna quotes Mr Odinga as telling an ODM strategy retreat at Maasai Lodge.

The PNU position was that Kibaki won fairly and that Mr Odinga and ODM should accept defeat and become the opposition.

But both sides compromised on power sharing.

Mr Miguna says Raila’s position changed the moment Mr Annan arrived.

He blames this on pressure from people around Mr Odinga, including Ugenya MP James Orengo and “Kanu orphans preferring even a whiff of power to being left out in the cold.”

Once Mr Odinga had changed his position, he still allowed himself to be short-changed by Kibaki in the power-sharing deal.

The deal, Mr Miguna says, should have included sharing of positions in the civil service. Mr Odinga should also have got powerful ministries which President Kibaki had already filled in his half cabinet.

Mr Miguna says then US ambassador Michael Ranneberger convinced Mr Odinga to accept “departments” in the coalition government “as the first steps to real power-sharing; and to give Kibaki time to agree to the sharing of the other positions in government.”

Mr Miguna writes that Mr Odinga and his team treated Mr Annan “like a judge of the supreme global court, not as a mediator, thus Annan’s role became prescriptive, rather than explorative.”

But he accuses Mr Annan of failing to stand up to President Kibaki and the PNU side once the talks started culminating in Mr Odinga and ODM getting a raw deal at the end.