Thursday, January 31, 2008

More headlines - Thurs 1/31/2008

Second Kenyan Opposition Legislator Killed

Published: February 1, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya —A second Kenyan opposition lawmaker was shot dead on Thursday and riots immediately exploded in opposition strongholds.

The violence led to the postponement of talks being brokered by
Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, and the current secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, said he would travel to Nairobi on Friday to help address the crisis.

The lawmaker who was killed, David Kimutai Too, was shot by a policeman in Eldoret in the country’s volatile Rift Valley where many people have already been killed or have fled their homes, but Kenyan government officials were quick to say the latest killing was connected to an illicit love triangle. The opposition, however, called it an assassination.

“This is the part of the strategy to reduce the number of parliamentarians,” said Salim Lone, a spokesman for the top opposition leader, Raila Odinga.

Mr. Too was the second opposition lawmaker to be killed in two days in a spiral of violence that has claimed more than 800 lives in the country and is putting Kenya on the brink of disaster.

The trouble began with a disputed election in December, in which Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, was declared the winner despite widespread evidence of vote rigging, and the violence has steadily moved, town by town, death by death, across the country.

On Tuesday, Melitus Mugabe Were, a popular opposition member of Parliament, was dragged from his car and shot dead in his driveway by two armed thugs. The police are investigating closely but Mr. Were’s friends and family say he was not robbed and the killing was a professional assassination.

Mr. Annan, who has emphasized that time is running out in Kenya, told reporters that because of what had happened “we have postponed this afternoon’s session and we will work all day tomorrow so that the leaders can attend to urgent matters."

Mr. Ban said he would travel to Nairobi on Friday from an African Union summit in neighboring Ethiopia to help with the talks between the opposing political sides.

Mr. Too is a member of the Kalenjin ethnic group, which has supported the opposition. In the days after the election, Kalenjins swept across the countryside burning homes that belonged to Kikuyus, Mr. Kibaki’s ethnic group, and killing many Kikuyus. In one incident, a Kalenjin mob burned to death up to 50 people hiding in a church. Most of them were Kikuyu women and children.

Mr. Too’s killing seemed to send a shock wave of outrage — and panic — across Kenya.

In Kisumu, an opposition stronghold in the far west of Kenya, mobs of young men tore through the streets, burning tires, hurling rocks and blockading roads. They didn’t seem to accept the government’s explanation of the killing, and it seems that even if Mr. Too’s death had nothing to do with the incredibly volatile political situation here, it is bound to be interpreted in that way.

“We won’t believe what they say,” said Willis Omondi, a protester with a sling in his hand. “We know the government is involved. Kibaki’s government will never work in Kenya. We will paralyze them even if they kill our leaders.”

In Eldoret, police clashed with protesters who had ringed the police station. Kenyan authorities said they had arrested the policeman who shot Mr. Too but the mob was demanding that the police hand him over.

According to government authorities, Mr. Too was driving in his car with a female police officer whose boyfriend was also a police officer. The boyfriend drove alongside them on a motorcycle and shot and killed both.

The Rift Valley, one of the most beautiful slices of Africa, has been the epicenter of Kenya’s postelection problems and is home to ethnic groups that have long felt others do not belong.

Full story from NY Times

Lawmaker killed in Kenya's Rift Valley

By MICHELLE FAUL and HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press Writers
Thu Jan 31, 6:39 AM ET

An opposition lawmaker was gunned down by a police officer Thursday in the second fatal shooting of an opposition legislator this week amid ethnic fighting sparked by Kenya's disputed presidential election, officials said.

National police chief Hussein Ali said the police officer, who has been arrested, shot David Too in a dispute over the officer's girlfriend. The opposition said it was an assassination plot.

Henry Kosgie, an official of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, told a news conference that witnesses had reported seeing Too shot as he traveled by car from Nairobi to the western city of Eldoret.

Angry residents of Eldoret marched on the police station after the shooting but ran away as paramilitary officers fired into the air.

Within minutes of the news reaching the western town of Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, gangs of men armed themselves with machetes and set up burning barricades. Businesses shut down and workers began to flee from the town center.

The killing came as negotiators began the first day of talks to resolve the country's deadly election dispute, and the head of the African Union warned the country was turning to ethnic cleansing, and even genocide.

Opposition party secretary-general Anyang Nyongo said it was "part of an evil scheme" to kill legislators and rob the opposition of its majority in parliament.

An Associated Press reporter saw Too's body at a hospital in Eldoret, where Deputy Police Chief Gabriel Kuya said the traffic officer had discovered that his girlfriend was having an affair with Too, and chased the two on his motorcycle when he saw them together in a car.

"He drove toward the side of the woman and shot her in the stomach twice. Her partner (legislator Too) pleaded with the officer not to kill her but he turned his pistol on him instead, hitting him four times in the head," Kuya told the AP.

At an African Union summit in neighboring Ethiopia, chairman Alpha Konare said, "Kenya is a country that was a hope for the continent. Today, if you look at Kenya you see violence on the streets. We are even talking about ethnic cleansing, We are even talking about genocide. We cannot sit with our hands folded."

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki listened from the front row. Opposition leader Raila Odinga's party rejects Kibaki's Dec. 27 re-election as flawed, tried to prevent him from attending and appealed to the 52-nation bloc not to recognize him. The international community and international and local observers agree that Kibaki's razor-thin victory came because of a rigged vote tally.

In Nairobi, six negotiators — three representing Kibaki and three representing Odinga — were meeting under the mediation of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"The mood is serious. They can feel the weight of the nation on their shoulders," said a spokesman for Annan, Nasser Ega-Musa.

Odinga has said he wants a new election, while Kibaki has made clear he will not negotiate his position as president.

Annan has said it could take a month to resolve the immediate dispute over the election and a year to map out a plan for dealing with decades-old ethnic animosities and land disputes underlying the violence.

Much of the violence has pitted other tribes, including Odinga's Luo, against Kibaki's Kikuyu people. Kikuyus, Kenya's largest ethnic group, have long been resented for their dominance of Kenya's economy and politics.

Hundreds of Kikuyus have been killed, and members of the group account for more than half of the 300,000 chased from their homes, most in the Rift Valley.

Human rights groups and others accuse politicians of orchestrating some of the violence.

The top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, said Wednesday that she believed the month of violence has descended into ethnic cleansing.
Frazer said she did not consider the killings genocide.

Heidi Vogt reported from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Associated Press Writers Anita Powell in Addis Ababa, Katy Pownall in Kikuyu Town, Katharine Houreld in Kisumu, and Tom Maliti, Malkhadir M. Muhumed and Tom Odula in Nairobi contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Full story from AP on Yahoo News

Africa Union head: Kenya facing genocide

By ANITA POWELL, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 36 minutes ago

Africa is facing a genocide in Kenya and must make resolving the crisis a priority, the head of the African Union told the continent's leaders — among them the Kenyan president — at Thursday's opening of a three-day summit.

"Kenya is a country that was a hope for the continent," African Union chairman Alpha Konare said. "Today, if you look at Kenya you see violence on the streets. We are even talking about ethnic cleansing, We are even talking about genocide. We cannot sit with our hands folded."

Others have said that while Kenya is in crisis, the violence is not genocide.

"If Kenya burns, there will be nothing for tomorrow," Konare said.

More than 800 people have been killed across Kenya and tens of thousands have fled their homes since a Dec. 27 vote Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki is accused of stealing. Much of the violence has pitted other ethnic groups against Kibaki's Kikuyu.

Kibaki listened to Konare Thursday from the front row, among about 40 heads of state meeting in the Ethiopian capital. World Bank President Robert Zoellick and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also were in attendance.

Ban said he planned to meet Kibaki on sidelines of the summit and travel to the Kenyan capital Friday to meet Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The Kenyan opposition had called on the AU to bar Kibaki, saying he stole the Dec. 27 election, and international diplomats had suggested his time might be better spent at home negotiating with Odinga.

It would have been uncharacteristic of the AU to bar a duly sworn in leader — Kibaki was not the only president at the summit whose mandate has been questioned. And Kibaki has said repeatedly he believes he is Kenya's legitimately elected president, and the trip to the summit was just one of several steps he has taken to underline that, including naming key Cabinet ministers.

"Today the burning issue which is on your agenda is the problem in Kenya," Konare said.
Konare reiterated the AU's hope former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's mediation efforts in Kenya would be successful.

Kenya was not the only challenge facing African leaders in Addis Ababa. Leaders and international diplomats plan to address issues surrounding peacekeeping operations in Sudan's Darfur and Somalia, along with upcoming elections in Zimbabwe, which is mired in political and economic crises.

The African Union was established in 1999, supplanting the Organization of African Unity. Today's African Union has peacekeeping activities, social and economic projects and considers itself the arbiter of African governance. This year, a new chairman will be named to replace Konare, who has served as the AU's top operational official since 2003.
Associated Press Writer Heidi Vogt contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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UN, African leaders press Kenya factions to end bloodshed

by Jean-Marc Mojon
2 hours, 11 minutes ago

UN chief Ban Ki-moon and African leaders gathered in Ethiopia urged Kenya's leaders Thursday to find a peaceful way out of the post-election unrest that has claimed nearly 1,000 lives.

"Kenyan leader President (Mwai) Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga ... have a special responsibility to solve the crisis peacefully," Ban said in his speech at the opening of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

He later announced that he would meet with both the political rivals in a bid to bolster mediation efforts led by his UN predecessor Kofi Annan.

"Tomorrow, I will go to Nairobi. I will meet Mr Odinga and some representatives of civil society. Just after this press conference, I will meet Mr Kibaki," he said.

The Kenyan president was attending the summit in the Ethiopian capital.

Odinga insists Kibaki rigged his way to re-election in December presidential polls, triggering a deep political crisis and violence that has left around 1,000 people dead.

The African Union's commission chairman, Alpha Oumar Konare, also appealed for swift action to end the bloodshed in the usually stable east African nation.

"Kenya means so much to us that today there is an emergency to douse the flames," Konare said.

"We tell all the protagonists to stop, stop, stop. If you burn Kenya, what will be left for you to govern?" he added.

"Tragically, Kenya was the country that always gave to others, offered shelter to others and talked to them so that they made peace, a country of hope for our continent," he said.

Japan, a special guest of the summit and represented by former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, also voiced its concern over the spiraling crisis and urged the rival leaders to "work together with the African Union and the international community to find a peaceful resolution."

Mori pledged 4.1 million dollars (2.8 million euros) in assistance to Kenya, where at least a quarter of a million people have been displaced by the political violence.

Full story from AFP;_ylt=AsUZaalgrpBMmQ006vc3_Ay96Q8F

Analyst says AU Will Rely on Kofi Annan to help End Kenyan Crisis

By Joe De Capua Washington
31 January 2008

The political crisis in Kenya is at the top of the agenda as the African Union holds its summit in Addis Ababa. But what can the AU do at this stage to help resolve the crisis and end the violence?

Herman Hanekom is an independent researcher. From Cape Town, South Africa, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

“The African Union has already appointed the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, as its special mediator in the conflict situation in Kenya. So, basically I think what would happen at this meeting is to bureaucratically formalize it and call upon (President) Kibaki and (opposition leader Raila) Odinga to give their full cooperation to bringing an end to the mayhem existing in Kenya at the moment,” he says.

Despite many calls for an end to the turmoil, it continues. The death toll from the violence is edging close to 1,000. Hanekom says, “What I think happened here is that a political situation that could have been resolved peacefully in a court, following the constitution and rule of law and legal procedures, unfortunately has been overtaken first of all by political expediency and then that was hijacked by tribal animosity. We have various tribes united as one group pitted against another group.”

Hanekom describes it as “calling old accounts to book.” Asked what can be done at this stage, considering the ethnic rivalries, he says, “I cannot see those ethnic differences being tempered unless a political solution can be found between Kibaki, the president suspect, if I may use that term, and Odinga, the opposition (leader). Once the political impasse has been resolved, I think they will have enough clout to bring their various ethnic groups, who support them, into control.”

Hanekom adds, “It’s very clear Kibaki is under grave suspicion that he did not win the elections…which questions his legitimacy. And somewhere along the line a compromise must be found. We have not had insight into the proposals that Annan put on the table yesterday (Wednesday). So, everybody is waiting anxiously and in anticipation to get clarity on that matter.”

He recommends that Kenya follow the example of Tanzania, which conducted elections with little violence and had a change of government. He says in Tanzania, “life goes on and improves on a daily basis.”

Full story from Voice of America

Stop Kenya burning, says AU head

African leaders at their summit in Ethiopia have been told they must get involved with the crisis in Kenya.

AU commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare told them they could not just sit by. "If Kenya burns, there will be nothing for tomorrow," he said.

More than 850 people have died in political and ethnic clashes since last month's elections, which the opposition says were rigged.

In Nairobi, talks between government and opposition have been postponed.

Substantive negotiations started for the first time on Thursday but were adjourned until Friday after an opposition MP was shot dead by a policeman in the western town of Eldoret.

The police say the killing was a domestic dispute but the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says he was assassinated.

The death of David Too has raised tensions in Eldoret, the scene of serious violence this month.

Mr Konare - the AU's top executive - said it was the AU's duty to support the mediation process which is led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

'Special responsibility'
The current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Kenyan leaders to find a peaceful way out.

"President [Mwai] Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga... have a special responsibility to solve the crisis peacefully," he told the summit.

Violence first broke out after the 27 December presidential elections, which the opposition Orange Democratic Movement says Mr Kibaki's government rigged.

Mr Kibaki is among more than 40 leaders present at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, even though the ODM called on the AU not to recognise him.

Mr Odinga, by contrast, has not been invited.

All eyes
The BBC's Will Ross, reporting from the conference, says all eyes will be on Mr Kibaki.

He says Mr Kibaki is likely to brief at least some of the African leaders on events in Kenya, especially the talks between government and opposition.

The Kenyan crisis may then be pushed away, which could be convenient for an organisation which often struggles to tackle the continent's problems with any great urgency, he says.

Despite Mr Konare's plea, the official theme of the AU summit is industrialisation.

But other subjects are likely to include Sudan, where the AU and the UN have promised to create the world's largest peacekeeping force in Darfur, Somalia, where members are keen to strengthen the small Ugandan and Burundian forces in the country, and the AU's own internal organisation

Our correspondent says many Africans hope other urgent issues such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo will also be tackled.

Full story from BBC

Trapped in a fracturing Kenya

By Karen Allen
BBC News, Eldoret

It is a little unnerving when there is a man next to you sharpening a large machete on the ground by your feet. Swiping it in a menacing manner.

But the machete - or panga as Kenyans refer to it - has become a common sight here. Not simply as a farming tool, but now as a weapon as well.

It is dusk and we are at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the town of Eldoret in the Rift Valley.

A group of dozens of excitable youths has gathered around us. They are noisy, curious about our presence here, but they are not threatening and they are keen to talk.

They had hauled huge concrete slabs onto the road to block the traffic. They are searching vehicles which have come on to what they consider their territory.

A fortnight ago, when I last visited Eldoret, the police were busy dismantling the roadblocks. Now there are no police in sight.

"These barriers were originally put up as a protest," one young primary school teacher told me when I first came to this town - one renowned, in more peaceable times, for its dairy farms and horticulture.

Unable to travel to Nairobi to express their anger at what they saw as a stolen election, for fear of being shot by the police, the men say the roadblocks were erected as a physical expression of discontent.

Now the politics have been cast aside and the roadblocks are altogether more sinister.

The men patrolling this roadblock are armed with machetes, bows and arrows and clubs.

They fear revenge attacks by gangs loyal to the Kikuyu tribe, members of President Mwai Kibaki's ethnic group.

There is a rumour that a gang known as the Mungiki sect is planning revenge attacks after other members of its community were driven away from their homes.

But in other parts of now divided Kenya, the roles are reversed. Kikuyus are defending themselves from what they say are aggressors from other tribes.

When I ask one of them - who appears to be their leader - why they chased the Kikuyus out in the first place, he refers back to the election saying the Kikuyus had "done the wrong thing" by casting their votes for the president's party.

But dig deeper and it is clear that the disputed election is merely a catalyst.

Some people here believe that they have been denied access to land because Kikuyu settlers were moved in after independence.

Generations have passed, tribes have intermarried, but the issue has never been properly addressed.

This crisis is seeing countless Kenyan lives being ripped apart and there are plenty of people ready to exploit the fear and instability.

One man told me he had had to pay 10,000 shillings ($180) - more than a month's wages for many here - to get the police to escort his family out of Nairobi's Kibera slum, which has been the scene of appalling clashes.

He was keen to remove his young children from the violence. But a 10,000 shilling "bung" is enough to get you just a short distance away, perhaps only a mile from the slum.
Beyond that, you are on your own.

Language of hate
Kenya, in the past, proudly boasted of its diversity. But today, it seems, every conversation is dominated by ethnicity.

Hire a driver to take you to an unfamiliar place and it is important to know what tribe he is from.
Can he talk his way through the checkpoints or will he be attacked because of the community he comes from?

Surnames are now used with care. They can reveal that you are a Luo, a Kikuyu or whatever.

Go to a hotel and one waiter will explain how his family is now in hiding, terrified they will be attacked. Another waiter, from a different tribe, will come out and rubbish his colleague's story.

This may not be Rwanda in the 1990s, but this is supposedly cosmopolitan Kenya and the language of hate has become deeply disturbing.

People are becoming stranded, prisoners in their own communities because the roads are so unsafe.

A Kenyan friend called David - a man in his thirties, the youngest of six boys - came to me distraught.

His brother had died suddenly, not because of the violence but through illness, and he urgently needed to make the 400km (250 miles) journey back home to bury him. But so far he has not been able to.

Armed with a fistful of cash to pay for inflated bus fares he set out in search of transport and a police escort that could deliver him safely from Nairobi to his home in the west of the country.

But no-one will take him. It is just too dangerous.

Three days on, David is still unable to pay his last respects nor is he able to ensure the small plot of land his brother owned does not get snatched by greedy hands.

Like so many others David is trapped in a dislocated Kenya and it is hurting him. All he can think about is whether God will forgive him for failing in this last act.

Full story from BBC

Lawmaker killed in Kenyan violence

Story Highlights
§ Second Kenyan opposition lawmaker shot dead amid post-election violence
§ Delegations from Kenya's opposing parties are having conciliation talks
§ President Mwai Kibaki is in Ethiopia for a meeting of the African Union
§ At least 863 people killed, 261,000 others displaced since disputed election

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Opposing sides in a bitter dispute plan to meet Thursday amid an unprecedented wave of violence that has claimed the life of a second opposition member of parliament.

Violence has killed at least 863 people and forced 261,000 others from their homes since a disputed presidential election stirred ethnic tensions around Kenya, a country long known as peaceful and relatively prosperous.

On Thursday, an opposition member of parliament, David Too [from Kericho], was shot dead in the city of Eldoret, Kenyan sources told CNN.

It's unclear whether his death is connected to post-election violence, but his death is the second this week of a legislator from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement. Another member of parliament, Mugabe Were, was shot dead Tuesday.

The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, said the killing is part of a plan to reduce the number of opposition members of parliament. A government spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger told CNN the U.S. was "deeply concerned" by the killing and said Washington had offered the FBI's assistance in the investigation of Too's killing. The U.S. had also offered to help investigate the killing of Were.

The bloodletting showed no sign of abating despite talks meant to encourage political reconciliation.

"The violence is not stopping," a spokesman for the Kenyan Red Cross, Anthony Mwangi, told CNN on Thursday. "It could reach a point where it is difficult to reverse."

Delegations representing President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga plan to meet in Nairobi Thursday to try to forge a political solution to the crisis. Also on Thursday, Kibaki planned to be in Ethiopia for a meeting of the African Union, where the crisis in Kenya may be discussed.

Kibaki and Odinga met face-to-face Wednesday in a meeting facilitated by Kofi Annan, former U.N. secretary general.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also due to will head to Kenya's capital on Friday to help mediation efforts, according to opposition spokesman Salim Lone.

Kibaki and Odinga faced off in a Dec. 27 election that international monitors criticized as flawed.

Even so, Kibaki claimed victory and took the oath of office shortly after ballots were cast. Odinga and his supporters in the Orange Democratic Movement declined to recognize the election results as valid.

Political violence that erupted soon after the voting soon took on ethnic overtones -- a U.S. diplomat has described it as "ethnic cleansing."

Kibaki's tribe -- the Kikuyu -- has dominated Kenyan politics and commerce since the country gained independence in 1963. Odinga belongs to the Luo tribe.

Violence has raged between members of the two clans since the election.

In one town in the vast Rift Valley of western Kenya, members of one tribe poked out the eye of a young man from the rival tribe and then hacked his body and burned him to death, residents told CNN.

Such scenes have unfolded around the country, leading the Red Cross spokesman in Nairobi to say Thursday that its estimates of 863 deaths and 261,000 displaced people are "likely going to shoot up" as time passes.

Just Wednesday, Mwangi said, 6,000 people converged on an internally displaced persons camp on the very day it opened, in the town of Limuru, in central Kenya.

That camp is one of roughly 300 internally displaced camps in Kenya, which has long sheltered hundreds of thousands of refugees from other nations in sprawling refugee camps but has erected such camps for uprooted Kenyans only after natural disasters, Mwangi said.

"We've never known internally displaced camps like this," he said.

Kenya's relative peace in the post-colonial era is all the more remarkable given the violence that has plagued neighboring nations such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.

Don't Miss
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Background: Tribal bonds color Kenyan politics

Conflicts in those countries have killed and displaced millions of people even as Kenya enjoyed relative calm and fairly robust economic development, particularly when judged by the standards of East Africa.

"We've been an island of peace," Mwangi said. "We've never experienced this before."

Full story from CCN

African leaders may sidestep Kenya

By Will Ross
BBC News, Addis Ababa

At the end of the first day of the African Union foreign ministers' meeting in Addis Ababa, a question was asked: "Why has the situation in Kenya not yet been discussed?"

They then debated whether to start talking about the crisis.

It was pointed out that time was running out as the Ethiopian government had invited all the ministers to dinner and it would be discourteous to be late.

A foreign minister from West Africa then asked: "Would it not also be discourteous to wine and dine while Kenya burns?"

But the tricky subject waited until the second day when Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula briefed his colleagues on his assessment of the situation.

Proceedings then swiftly moved to other topics.

This seeming reluctance to discuss Kenya will not come as a surprise to many critics of the African Union, who find it hard draw up a substantial list of the pan-African body's achievements since its inception six years ago.

There have been troop deployments to Somalia and Sudan which have had mixed success, but beyond that the list quickly dries up.

Navel gazing
Current AU chair President John Kuffuor of Ghana had a shot at mediation in Kenya before handing the baton to former UN chief, Kofi Annan - so the AU is to a certain extent involved in efforts to solve the crisis.

So what have AU foreign ministers been discussing if not Kenya?

The answer? Their own polls instead of Kenya's.

A debate is currently going on as to whether the elections of senior positions in the AU should go ahead as planned, or whether the mandate of current officials should be extended.

This has been complicated by the fact that a recent internal audit of the work of the African Union was scathing.

Some countries are calling for a chance to discuss the report and clean up the organisation before there is a change of guard at the top.

The report described a poorly-functioning institution where senior AU officials in Addis Ababa were bogged down in bureaucracy, commissions were dysfunctional, and there was an unhealthy culture of colleagues not talking to each other.

The AU is often cash-strapped, and the report noted 21 countries were more than a year behind with their payments to the AU, including Libya and Egypt.

The only commission to come out in a fairly good light was the Peace and Security Commission.

Recognising Kibaki
There had been some debate about whether Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki, who is accused by the opposition of stealing the recent election, would attend the summit.

Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula confirmed Mr Kibaki would be attending, and he dismissed the suggestion that his attendance was principally designed to cement his position as head of state.

"There is no injunction against the president and so he has to discharge his function as a head of state which includes participation in international summits," he said.

The opposition ODM party of Raila Odinga, who was declared the loser in the 27 December presidential election, has tried to attend the AU summit.

But it has been restricted to speaking on the sidelines outside the conference venue.

Full story from BBC

Kenya opposition urges Africa to shun "dictators"

Thu 31 Jan 2008, 15:13 GMT

By Andrew Cawthorne

NAIROBI, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Stung by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki's presence at the African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia, opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Thursday the continent should not return to legitimising "dictators".

Odinga disputes Kibaki's re-election at last month's vote and says he is the legitimately-elected president who should be representing the east African nation at the summit.

Instead, Kibaki flew to Addis Ababa insisting he was the legally-elected president of a nation where post-poll protests have degenerated into ethnic violence, killing 850 people.

"The African Union must respect its own charter. It should not replicate its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was tolerating dictators in the name of non-interference of sovereign states," Odinga told Reuters.

"We are dealing with a government ... unleashing terror on its own populace," he said, accusing authorities of fomenting "ethnic cleansing" in the Rift Valley and Central provinces -- a charge officials level at Odinga's party also.

The AU replaced the now-discredited OAU in 2002 and has trumpeted a policy of "non-indifference" to African problems.

But the pan-African body did not heed Odinga's call to block Kibaki's presence, though Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade -- seen as an elder statesman on the continent -- has said he contacted the opposition leader to try and get him to Ethiopia.

"I spoke to President Wade yesterday, and he told me they were going to try to get me to the summit of the AU. I am still waiting. I hope the invitation comes through," Odinga said.

Kibaki's presence was, he said, "most unfortunate".

"This offends a section of the AU charter which says that the AU will not recognise a sitting president who uses power to block elected presidents," he said.

"By going in that direction, it will lose credibility in the eyes of the African people and the international community."

Odinga revealed that U.S. authorities had offered Kenya the help of FBI investigators after the shooting to death earlier this week of one of his Orange Democratic Movement's (ODM) legislators. A U.S. embassy spokesman confirmed the offer.

Odinga urged Kibaki to allow that, in order to catch those behind Tuesday's killing of Melitus Were, and the shooting to death of a second legislator, David Kimutai Too, on Thursday.

Police have called Were's death "murder" and Too's shooting by a traffic police offer -- who also shot a fellow female officer and was arrested -- a "crime of passion".

But Odinga said there may be political motives.

"The gentleman (Too) of course was with some lady, but is that itself a crime? How can they come to conclusions before any investigations?" he said, calling for an independent probe.
"I think the government is just trying to cover up."

Odinga said the loss of Too -- "a young, promising, patriotic politician" -- was a terrible blow to his party.

He was upbeat, however, on mediation talks between his and Kibaki's teams being led by former U.N. boss Kofi Annan, saying the opposition would continue to hold off on street protests.

"We want to give them the benefit of doubt. So far, so good. Progress is being made," Odinga said of the talks.

"They want to conclude phase one within seven days. That is dealing with the immediate problems. And then phase two will be the long-term issues, that may take longer."

(Additional reporting by Duncan Miriri, editing by Nick Tattersall)

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Full story from Reuters

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