South African mediator pulls out of Kenyan peace talks


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South African mediator pulls out of Kenyan peace talks

The mediation process to end post-election political standoff in Kenya suffered a major setback after mediator Cyril Matemela Ramaphos a of South Africa announced here Monday he would not be taking his position in the initiative, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, after the government cast aspers i ons over his impartiality. He said, “The government and the PNU (Party of National Unity) delegation has re servations about my participation and I have decided that I should withdraw beca use anybody who seeks to play the role of a mediator should do so effectively if t hey enjoy the trust and full confidence of the all the parties involved in the process.” Ramaphosa arrived in Kenya Saturday and was expected to be the alternate chair of the African Union-mandated panel of Eminent Persons that also includes former South African first lady Graca Machel-Mandela and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa in the absence of Annan. “I thought it is best that I withdraw and go back to South Africa,” Ramaphosa, a leading South African businessman and lawyer, said. The ruling Party of National Unity, in a statement at the weekend, expressed res ervations about Ramaphosa’s neutrality, saying he was a friend of opposition Ora n ge Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga. While withdrawing his participation, Ramaphosa said he did not want to become an obstacle to the mediation process. His reluctance to join the mediation team is a major setback to the talks as each side had expressed optimism that they would result in a speedy resolution of t h e deadlock that has precipitated civil unrest in which some 900 have died and 30 0 ,000 displaced internally. Ramaphosa is a renowned political negotiator, having been instrumental in bringi ng African National Congress, led by Nelson Mandela, and the National Party, under Frederick de Klerk, to the negotiating table before the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994 reported Panapress.

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