15 APRIL 2008

delete did not materialize and add at that sentence at the beginningFighting may break out etc;

OK. Fighting may break out again as the proposed Kenya governmental deal negotiated by our former Secretary General Kofi Annan may not stick for long. But at least he stopped the conflict for a while. In fact, he did more during those early two months of this year in helping settle a conflict than he had accomplished during his ten year tenure. He stayed focused enough on one problem to make the difference. It was not just a photo opportunity (although that was a welcome bonus). He really did a statesman's work. The deal may have been merely Scotch-taped but it gave Kenya some breathing room.

The question now is: Why did Mr. Annan intervene with such interest? Before we speculate, let's mention that in Nairobi Mr. Annan had with him a full-fledged team of former U.N. officials and a current senior one who appeared merely "for the form" for a few days. Actually, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was expected in the Kenyan capital on his way back from an African summit only three days into his predecessor's sudden arrival. But he kept a measured distance -- no doubt after receiving the right "password" -- indicating overall support. More to the point, those around Mr. Annan like Elizabeth Lindenmeyer, Fred Eckhart, Lamine Cis and former Legal Counsel Hans Corel were all paid by the United Nations. Perhaps we should appreciate that Kofi Annan did not submit a travel claim with per diem.

If the Kenyan intervention was merely an isolated effort, it could be chucked to nostalgia, the Greening of Africa or the wind blowing in the right direction. But then, with a new crisis in Zimbabwe, we learned that Mr. Annan was at it again. He issued a statement, expressed availability to assist in finding a way out, and -- most noticeable -- had members of his Nairobi "team" help spread it around. U.N.-accredited correspondents were initially puzzled but then gladly accommodated outgoing yet still familiar voices.

Those harbouring good feelings speculated that the lifelong international civil servant who made it to Secretary General misses the good old days and wishes to continue on that path with whatever he could possibly accomplish. The idea of a Secretary General Emeritus or standby Secretary General may have been in his subconscious as planted by some of his aides who thrived on telling him how he had benefited the U.N. rather than the other way round. Also, it is one way to remain within the media radar.

One cynical former senior official however pointed out to us that such an effort could not be separated from the newly-formed Mo Ibrahim $1 million a year prize to a distinguished accomplished African former official. The London-based, originally Sudanese, former British telecommunication official had designated Mr. Annan as Chairman of the Award Committee. It started its work this year by giving the prize to former President Chissano of Mozambique while on some obscure mission in Uganda. Mr. Annan's more visible work in Kenya, possibly Zimbabwe and elsewhere in "enhancing constructive governmental traditions" would certainly qualify him for serious consideration by his committee. Mo will only be too happy to tout the accomplishments of his own chairman. The only one happier would, of course, be Mr. Annan himself. More Greening for Africa.