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Podcast / October 17 2023

How Kofi Annan mediated a volatile political crisis in Kenya

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Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, who passed away five years ago, was one of the most famous diplomats of his time. In 2008, he mediated a Kenyan political crisis in 2008 that stands out as one of his most impressive acts of diplomacy.

A disputed election in late December 2007 spurred violence and displacement across Kenya. A number of diplomats tried to mediate an end to the conflict. But ultimately, Kofi Annan, along with Graça Machel, a Mozambican and South African politician, and Benjamin Mkapa, the late president of Tanzania, were asked to negotiate an end to the violence and a peaceful transition of power.

Meredith Preston McGhie was an aide to Annan during this mediation. She was also the Africa director at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. She describes how Annan approached the negotiations, including how he garnered Kenyan and international support. McGhie, currently the Secretary General for the Global Center for Pluralism, told her story to our senior producer Laura Rosbrow-Telem. The Negotiators is a collaboration between Doha Debates and Foreign Policy.