01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Back from retreat - No deal yet 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Back from retreat - No deal yet

It seems that in spite of Kofi Annan’s best efforts, including taking the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation committee to Tsavo on retreat, still no concrete agreement as such has been reached. Annan says that good progress has been made in the talks, but reading between the lines it seems that politicians are digging in their heels and failing to give up much ground in negotiations. Yesterday evening, news from the Nation Media Group to our mobile phone was as follows:
‘Annan: Deal close, I will stay to end. Agreed: Start poll probe by March 15, Constitutional review in a year. Structure of new Govt outstanding.’

Condoleezza Rice and Jendayi Frazer are due to arrive here from the States on Monday, hopefully to put some tight thumb screws on the stubborn politicians, though Bush is purposefully not coming to Kenya during his current African tour. Adam Wood, British High Commissioner in Kenya mentioned freezing MPs and business people’s UK bank accounts, as well as denying UK visas as possible measures against those responsible for derailing peace talks and instigating violence since the December election.

Above all, we are thrilled that Annan has pledged to stay until the end of the negotiations. It's incredible that he has maintained an extremely positive attitude in the face of a particularly ugly set of Kenyan problems. In fact, his attitude has gone a long way in restoring confidence in Kenya’s future. The violence here has also ostensibly stopped and we have been able to go back to 'normal' for now.

The business community is hopeful that things will be sorted out soon. When an agreement is reached between the political parties, it means that work decisions currently delayed or put on hold can finally be made, which in turn will mean that business can resume proper and the economy will be able to build itself back up again. At the moment the general attitude is:
‘We can tentatively conduct business for now, and we can hope for a resolution which we are increasingly confident will be found shortly, but if it’s not found we don’t even want to think about the consequences.’

Many estimate that it will take not less than a year to get back to where Kenya was economically, before the election took place. For instance, a Kenyan school mum I know who works for the airlines says that things are now very tough for them. A week or so ago they carried only four passengers on a flight from Heathrow to Nairobi and the number of flights operating on the usual routes has been cut. My cousin who is visiting here from England now said that his BA flight was surprisingly full, so it seems that intrepid tourists are gradually coming back but it will take a significantly long time for the airlines to get back to catering for the pre election quantity of travellers in and out of Kenya.

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