As the post-election violence in Zimbabwe mirrored that of Kenya, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga had recently weighed in on the situation.
The countries of Kenya and Zimbabwe may seem alike yet seem very different from one another at the same time. Back in December of 2007, Kenya was having presidential elections. It was the incumbent Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) against opposition candidate and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.
Odinga claimed to have won and had accused Kibaki of rigging the elections. As a result, a humanitarian crisis was created as Kenya was plagued with violence. Eventually, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had stepped in. A power-sharing deal was reached where the post for Prime Minister was created. Kibaki remained as Kenya’s President while Odinga would serve as Kenya’s Prime Minister. This was when talks broke down when Ghanaian President John Kufuor tried to mediate.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the country has been plagued by post-election violence. So far, it has been aimed at the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai along with many others have accused incumbent Robert Mugabe of trying to steal the election. The United Nations and human rights groups accuse Mugabe’s Zanu-PF Party of causing the violence.
Recently, it has been said that Zimbabwe has become a junta. In a sense, it shares the same fate as Burma. Tsvangirai could possibly end up in the same position as Aung San Suu Kyi. Mugabe’s administration and supporters have been accused of using fear, intimidation, and violence to force the people to vote for Mugabe instead of Tsvangirai.
However, it seems unlikely that a power-sharing deal will happen in Zimbabwe.
Kenyan PM Raila Odinga has weighed in on the situation. He would give a news conference in Washington DC urging the international community to put more pressure on Mugabe. In a nutshell, Odinga had told Mugabe to step down from power. Odinga also criticized the runoff election saying that the citizens would not have the confidence that the runoff election would be fair.
Jendayi Frazer, the top US diplomat for Africa, accused Mugabe of trying to steal the election. Tsvangirai had won but did not have the majority needed to avoid a runoff election.
Odinga also lashed out at Mugabe. “The question is: do we have conditions for free and fair elections right now?” Odinga said. Then he said: “The answer is no.” Odinga even went sharper and said that Zimbabwe embarrasses the whole continent of Africa.
Odinga said that Kenya has made such progress despite tensions between himself and Kibabki.
So far, it did not seem that Odinga had any words for South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki has been mediating the situation in Zimbabwe. So far, Mbeki has been criticized for his handling of the violence in Zimbabwe.
It would be interesting to see what Mugabe has to say to Odinga.