Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Friday, 25 January 2008

Press sees long road ahead for Kenya

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki (R) shakes hands with opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi
The talks were mediated by former UN chief Kofi Annan

The press in Kenya sees a glimmer of hope for efforts to resolve their country's political crisis after President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga met on Thursday for the first time since last month's disputed presidential election.

Papers say the talks' mediator, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, deserves praise for just managing to get the two rivals to sit down together.

But they also warn that the meeting is only the first step, and that Kenya's problems are far more deep-seated than just a dispute over power between Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga.


Just getting the two protagonists to shake hands in front of cameras and publicly commit themselves to the search for a peaceful solution, is a significant achievement by Kofi Annan. Yet, we must not delude ourselves that anything stupendous has been achieved. It would be unrealistic to expect a quick fix to a complex problem. Ultimately, the assignment is about the search for a new constitutional and social order that provides adequate rights and protections for all groups.


Kofi Annan and his team will have to dig deep and dirty to unravel the cause of the tensions that bring them to Kenya. They will undoubtedly find that what the world is seeing is just the ears of the hippopotamus, with the mass of the body covered by waters so treacherous that they may drown even the best of intentions. Mr Annan and his team have managed to get our two protagonists to sit at the same table. Now they should talk openly and honestly about the bone of contention.


It's time to bring this mayhem to an end... It is incumbent upon leaders, especially President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, to take the ongoing dialogue seriously. The talks must not be reduced to a power play where consolidation or sharing power are top of the agenda. They must be about returning peace and reconciliation in the land.


Whatever the outcome, the decision by President Mwai Kibaki and his erstwhile opponent, Raila Odinga, to sit across the table in search of a solution to the prevailing political crisis is commendable. We now need to put the election behind us and think ahead as one people, and one nation.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.


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