Nigeria’s career international diplomat and former Foreign Affairs Minister Oluyemi Adeniji has been proposed to co-chair Kenya’s crisis talks as former United Nations Secretary Kofi Annan’s alternate, the mediating team announced on Friday.
Ambassador Adeniji has been at the forefront of peace mediation efforts across the world with his last high-profile diplomatic engagement involving the warring p arties in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, which led to the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement.
Ambassador Adeniji, who became Nigeria’s Foreign Minister in 2003, has presided over high-profile international assignments both as a politician and as an international civil servant, including his engagement as a senior UN diplomat in Sierra Leone.
As Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, he was the Chair of the AU Council of Ministers d uring Nigeria’s Presidency. He participated in the Abuja Peace Negotiation on Sudan (Darfur) and the negotiations on the reform of the UN Security Council.
Speaking in Nairobi Friday, Annan said Adeniji would take over as the co-chair to begin comprehensive mediation on the long-term solutions required to end the c u rrent political crisis. The new engagement requires the co-chair to oversee the negotiations into the future. “We are discussing mechanisms of how we as members of the Panel of African Personalities can work together on the longer-term issues. We have settled on Ambassador Adeniji and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has agreed,” Annan said.
The government has yet to give its nod on the proposed co-chair.
Adeniji, who was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Austria in 1976 and Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, will overse e the formation of a new government in Kenya to steer a broad reform agenda. “The issues are complex; reaching compromise is difficult. But let me assure you that there is real momentum. We are at the water’s edge and the last difficult and frightening step will be taken,” Annan said on Friday.
“I am confident that in the interest of Kenya and its people, the parties will show the wisdom, flexibility and foresight to conclude an agreement,” Annan added . The former UN chief said he would be working closely with the proposed new chair who served as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva in 1 977 and as Ambassador to Switzerland.
In 1987 he was appointed Ambassador to France. He served in Paris until 1991 when he was appointed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja. Adeniji retired from the Nigerian Foreign Service in 1994. Adeniji has previously served as Special envoy of the UN Secretary-General and H ead of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) in 1 998.
In December 1999 he became the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Sierra-Leone (UNAMSIL).