Friday, January 25, 2008

Today’s Headlines – 1/25/2008

Friends: This is a longer post. There are a few good summary articles covering the major events appearing first, with some analysis and articles about the impact of the unfolding crisis below them.

In a nutshell, the major events and points to consider today are:

  • Kibaki and Odinga met yesterday, shook hands, committed to dialogue with Annan as facilitator; talks continue today.
  • Shortly after this breakthrough, both sides were throwing more blame, digging in their heels further.
  • Continuing violence upcountry around Nakuru, Molo; more deaths, houses burned. (NB: near Turi, where the girls went to school)
  • Concerns from Human Rights Watch that much of the violence was planned by the opposition; ODM denies this.

Remember in prayer the Quaker Peace Conference now underway in Kakamega, 24-27 January, details below in blue (at the bottom of this blog page, scroll way down).

Nation news extra quote:

A Nation investigation points out to competition for land, tribalism and
poverty as the key reasons why the violence was inevitable

Full story from Nation

Please share the brief summary above after worship this weekend.

Encourage your members and attenders to
engage in one action for peace in Kenya
this coming week.

Consult the list of ideas by clicking here.

Kenya’s Political Rivals Meet

Published: January 25, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya — For the first time since Kenya plunged into postelection chaos four weeks ago, the nation’s warring political leaders met face to face on Thursday, but afterward opposition leaders accused the president of being a fraud.

U.S. Envoy Wants Political Pact in Kenya (January 24, 2008)
New Violence Follows Kenyan Leaders’ Handshake (January 25, 2008)

President Mwai Kibaki, who won re-election by a suspiciously thin margin, and the top opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who says the election was rigged, talked for about an hour in Mr. Kibaki’s office. It was just the two of them, along with Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, who is overseeing the negotiations.

The chat went fine, opposition leaders said, and was mainly an ice-breaker to start a long process of negotiation. But Mr. Kibaki stirred up tempers with a short speech afterward.

Mr. Kibaki pointed out that he was “the duly elected president” and emphasized that any reconciliation would be on his terms. “I will personally lead our country in promoting tolerance, peace and harmony,” he said.

These comments seemed to drain the enthusiasm from the moment, and opposition leaders immediately called a news conference to criticize the president.

“True to his fraudulent character, Mr. Mwai Kibaki abused the occasion by attempting to legitimize his usurpation of the presidency,” opposition leaders said in a statement.

Salim Lone, an opposition spokesman, added: “This was supposed to be an event to build good faith. Kibaki politicized it.”

Mr. Kibaki’s spokesman did not return calls for comment.

It seems that the much-anticipated talks are falling victim to the same cycle of action and reaction that has sent Kenya into a tailspin since the elections, on Dec. 27. Since then, more than 650 people have been killed and 250,000 driven from their homes in a burst of violence that has ethnic and socioeconomic roots but has been fueled by politics.

The talks were supposed to be a breakthrough moment, and maybe they will prove to be. For weeks, Western diplomats and African leaders had been urging the two sides to meet, which they had refused to do.

But clearly the political standoff is not over. Western diplomats have warned that both sides are still far apart and that Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga are surrounded by entrenched backers who do not seem inclined to give an inch.

Both men claim to have won the election. Numerous election monitors have said there were so many irregularities, especially in counting votes, that it is impossible to tell who really won.

Mr. Odinga is demanding a new election and wants to be an equal partner in a transitional government. Mr. Kibaki has rejected those demands, indicating that the most he is willing to offer is a few minor cabinet posts. He has already made appointments to the most powerful posts.

On Wednesday, Michael E. Ranneberger, the American ambassador to Kenya, warned that any dialogue could be slow and difficult. “What the end result of that process of dialogue is going to be, I think it’s just too early to tell,” Mr. Ranneberger said. “There are really a number of hard-line people on both sides. And frankly it’s not clear what the president’s and what Raila Odinga’s real bottom lines are at this point.”

Mr. Annan used his influence and diplomatic seasoning to corral Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga into at least meeting each other. The plan for moving forward is for their lieutenants to hammer out a framework over the next few days that will cover all the issues to be discussed.

Peace advocates in Kenya said any meeting was better than none. “It’s a good beginning,” said George Wachira, a member of a group called Concerned Citizens for Peace. [NB: This is a group that AFSC is funding for relief efforts.] “Symbolically, it sends the right message. If people feel this is going to be resolved at a political level, people will realize there is no need to keep fighting in the streets.”

The worst fighting has been in the Rift Valley Province, where local elders and possibly higher-ranking politicians seem to have organized mobs of young men to attack along ethnic lines.

Full story from NY Times

2 Dead, Half a Town Burned in Kenya
4 hours ago

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethnic clashes have left half a town burned down and at least two dead in western Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross Society said Friday, in the latest violence in the East African nation's deadly election dispute.

Some 50 people have been wounded and up to 3,000 have been left homeless in fighting that erupted Thursday at Total Station town, Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said.

Aid workers have said the violence pitted people from President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group against the Kalenjin who support opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Some 700 people have been killed since the Dec. 27 election.

Full story from AFP

Eight killed in west Kenya clashes

Friday, 25 January 2008 12:25

Eight people have been [killed] during tribal clashes in the western Kenyan town of Nakuru.

The death toll there and in Molo, also in the Rift Valley province, has now risen to 15 over the past 24 hours.

President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have accused each other of trying to undermine the mediation effort of former UN chief Kofi Annan, who brokered their meeting in Nairobi yesterday.

Mr Odinga has urged the upcoming African Union summit to refrain from endorsing Mr Kibaki's reelection.

He said he would ask the AU leaders, meeting in Addis Ababa from 31 January to 2 February, to prevent Mr Kibaki from sending a delegation to the summit.

Kofi Annan described yesterday's symbolic meeting in which Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga smiled and shook hands live on television as 'a very encouraging development'.

Mr Kibaki has insisted on direct talks with Mr Odinga, who has refused to recognise the president's legitimacy and rejected calls for dialogue without the presence of an international mediator.

Full story from RTE (Ireland)

Kenyan rivals hold 'ice-breaker' talks

Story Highlights
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have met
Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan mediated the encounter
The meeting was the first since the disputed election on December 27
More than 500 people have been killed in violence that followed the election

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga met Thursday for the first time since last month's bitterly disputed election, under the auspices of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"Today, we have taken the first vital steps in resolving the electoral dispute and conflict that has ravaged this country for nearly a month now," said Odinga, who shook hands with Kibaki following Thursday's meeting.

Government officials told CNN they are not willing to negotiate the legitimacy of Kibaki's presidency -- which is at the center of the electoral dispute -- and said that the opposition must take up that issue with Kenya's courts.

Full story from CNN with AP

Kenyan leaders move toward resolving election standoff

Jan. 24, 2008, 11:16PM
Los Angeles Times

NAIROBI, KENYA — The two presidential rivals at the center of Kenya's bitter election dispute met Thursday and shook hands, offering a potential breakthrough in the violent political standoff that has crippled this East African nation.

In their first meeting since the disputed Dec. 27 presidential poll, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga met with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for about an hour.

Afterward, they emerged from the presidential office, smiling broadly and vowing to work together.

Images of the men shaking hands drew shouts of joy and applause from onlookers. Hoping to ease the public's anxiety, the government temporarily lifted its emergency ban on live television so broadcasters could air footage of the event.

"I felt such relief to see them shaking hands," said Gladys Mumo, 32, standing outside the presidential compound in Nairobi. "We want peace. Our children aren't going to school because of this fracas. As a mother, I see things moving in the right direction."

Full story from LA Times

Hope at last

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 1/25/2008

It was the handshake that rekindled hope for peace.

As millions of Kenyans watched on television, President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga stepped forward Thursday and clasped each other’s hand in a gesture which carried with it the destiny of a bruised nation.

But Mr Kibaki’s endorsement speech immediately drew ODM’s anger - and within hours they denounced his remarks that ‘‘he is the duly elected President of Kenya’’ and that the current crisis can be resolved internally.

As the talks hang on the balance, ODM demanded a written agreement between it and PNU on the mediation principles and agenda for the talks to formally begin.

A collective sigh of relief seemed to sweep across the country in that magic moment — mediator Kofi Annan clapping gently to their left while Kenyans clung to the hope of security after three weeks of bloody protests which brought their nation to the brink of civil war.

With their advisors and select Cabinet ministers standing by on the steps of the Office of the President’s Office, the two men uttered the words which could give us back our future; a commitment to dialogue to settle the crisis triggered by the disputed results of the presidential elections .

Mr Kibaki said: “I appeal to all Kenyans to remain calm and united as we seek for a solution through dialogue.”

Full story from Nation

More Violence Flares in Kenya, Despite Annan's Efforts

By VOA News
25 January 2008

A new flare up of violence has shaken Kenya, despite diplomatic efforts being conducted there by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Just hours after Mr. Annan had announced he was encouraged by the first direct talks between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, ethnic clashes broke out in central Kenya, especially in the town of Nakuru. At least three people were reported killed.

Mr. Annan is expected to hold further talks with political leaders to try to end the crisis sparked by the disputed re-election of Mr. Kibaki.

Meantime, Mr. Odinga is calling on the African Union not to recognize Mr. Kibaki's government. He claims Mr. Kibaki rigged the December 27 election. The ensuing unrest following that election has killed nearly 700 people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Full story from Voice of America

Chaos rock[s] Nakuru

Publication Date: 1/25/2008

Kenya Army soldiers have been called out to beef up security in Nakuru town after rival militia blocked key roads and destroyed property in fresh escalation of violence.

Screaming and wailing rent the air at Kisima and Kaptembwa Estates in the western part of Nakuru Town all night on Thursday as armed gangs torched houses.

The houses were still burning when residents of other parts of the town reported for work only to be greeted by smoke and violence.

A Nation reporter in the town reported seeing two trucks and three landrovers full of Kenya Army soldiers being deployed in the trouble-spots around the town.

A few traders who had opened their business premises closed down as a result of a stampede started from the Nakuru Bus Station where a man was stoned.

The police fired shots in the air, forcing people to flee in all directions, some opting to walk back to their residential estates.

Some bus drivers removed their vehicles from the bus station and parked them at the railway station, a few hundred metres away.

Motorists also removed their vehicles from parking bays and there were hardly any vehicles in the streets by 10 am.

Hundreds of hawkers who sell their wares in shop corridors within the town centre had also melted away.

Some residents of Lanet and Free Area in the eastern part of the town returned home after they heard that some young men had barricaded a section of the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.

A resident of Kwa Ndege area in Lanet who spoke to the Nation on the phone said he opted to stay at home for fear of running into trouble. About nine houses have been burnt in the area during the last two days.

Policemen guarded banks whose doors remained open but few people were seen entering the banks or the ATM enclosures after the stampede.

Full story from the Nation

Kenya's Odinga rules out being Kibaki's PM

Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:37am GMT

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga ruled out on Friday taking a new post of prime minister in President Mwai Kibaki's government as a solution to the post-election dispute crippling the east African nation.

"I never said I was considering taking up a position of prime minister under Kibaki," Odinga told Reuters, saying the only three acceptable options would be Kibaki's resignation, a vote re-run, or power-sharing then a new election.

Kibaki's remarks after their meeting last night, describing himself as Kenya's "duly-elected" president, were "embarrassing" but would not stop the opposition leader meeting his rival again, Odinga said in a telephone interview.

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne, Editing by Wangui Kanina)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

Full story from Reuters UK

Kenyan president defiant after meeting lead rival

By Shashank Bengali

NAIROBI, Kenya --
The two men at the center of Kenya's political crisis met face to face Thursday for the first time since a disputed election, but hopes for an end to four weeks of chaos and ethnic violence quickly dissolved into partisan backbiting.

Moments after the long-awaited meeting between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, Kibaki delivered a short, defiant speech in which he called himself the "duly elected president of Kenya" and referred repeatedly to "my government," while Odinga stood by uncomfortably. Many observers think Kibaki's re-election was rigged.

Odinga's party called a news conference to denounce what it called Kibaki's "demeaning and unacceptable behavior."

Party officials charged that Kibaki was trying to undermine the talks, and they demanded that both sides agree on terms before Odinga would meet with him again.

Just like that, two days of work by the latest mediator to come to Kenya -- former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- withered in the Nairobi heat.

Annan, a Ghanaian, is leading a panel of African elder statesmen to try to resolve a political standoff that's led to the deaths of nearly 700 people, mostly from ethnically motivated killings and police crackdowns on protesters.

Full story from

MPs united in call for peace

Publication Date: 1/25/2008

Political differences were set aside Thursday when 40 MPs from the violence-torn Rift Valley Province joined hands and made a passionate appeal for peace.

The MPs from PNU, ODM and other small parties vowed to work closely with provincial commissioner Hassan Noor to bring to an end the post-elections violence which has claimed more than 600 lives and left 600,000 people displaced countrywide.

Bureti MP Franklin Bett said in a statement: “It’s our hope that the on-going dialogue and mediation by President Kibaki and the ODM leader Raila Odinga will yield positive results, and go a long way in bringing about the desired peace.”

Presidential elections
Earlier, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka appealed to them to promote peace and reconciliation one month after the disputed presidential election was announced by the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, Mr Samuel Kivuitu. Violence followed soon after.

Mr Musyoka was addressing most of the 207 MPs who were elected at the December 27 polls during a two-day induction workshop on the Constituency Development Fund at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.

Full story at Nation

Homes burnt in Kenya poll clashes

Dozens of homes have been set on fire in central Kenya, police say, with reports of several deaths as post-election violence continues.

The latest clashes were in the Rift Valley capital, Nakuru, where eight people have reportedly been killed.

The violence comes despite hopes of progress after President Mwai Kibaki met opposition leader Raila Odinga for the first time since disputed polls.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan is to hold further talks to try to end the crisis.

His spokesman said he would be meeting former President Daniel arap Moi, religious leaders and the head of the Electoral Commission of Kenya on Friday.

Mr Annan has no immediate plans to lead further direct talks between the election rivals.

I can't go back to Kapkenduywa primary school because I will be killed by attackers
--Kimani Nganga Maruge
Kenya's oldest school pupil

Although Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga shook hands, the opposition were angered by the president's statement that he had had been "duly elected", saying he was not committed to meaningful talks.

But Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula appealed to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to give the discussions "a chance".
"We don't want to conduct negotiations from the rooftops," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Mr Odinga's ODM say he was cheated of victory. Violence that has broken out since the election has killed 700 people across the country.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says the symbolism and significance of the two leaders' meeting was enormous, but there is still a great deal of work to be done and compromise required for them to resolve their differences and reach an agreed way forward.

Violence 'planned'
A BBC correspondent in Nakuru says rowdy youths have blocked the entrance to the town and some frightened residents, mostly women and children, are fleeing on foot heading towards the capital, Nairobi.

Red Cross official Nakuru Bishar Odawa told the BBC Somali Service in that three people had died and 30 were injured in the clashes.

He said sections of the suburbs had been burnt down.

The AFP news agency quotes a police source as saying that at least eight people have been killed in Nakuru.

Thousands of people have fled to Nakuru from other parts of the Rift Valley.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe earlier said he could not confirm the reports of deaths in Nakuru but he said two people had been killed in the nearby town of Molo.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing opposition officials of helping to organise ethnic violence in the Rift Valley region, in which hundreds of Mr Kibaki's Kikuyu community were deliberately targeted and killed.

ODM spokesman Salim Lone said HRW should provide concrete evidence before jeopardising mediation efforts. The party has denied previous accusations of ethnic cleansing.

"Raila Odinga has repeatedly condemned the killings," he told the BBC.

The unrest triggered by the election on 27 December has driven 250,000 people from their homes.

Full story from BBC


Chaos in North Rift unmask historical disputes over land and cattle rustling

Publication Date: 1/25/2008

A new wave of violence has hit the North Rift region casting doubt on the position that the ongoing mayhem was purely a result of the disputed presidential election results.

Initially thought to have targeted just one community from Central province, the violence is now targeting two other groups this time from western Kenya, raising the possibility of other causes.
Already, one church says there are indications that there could be other reasons fuelling the violence.

On Tuesday, Kitale Catholic Justice and Peace Commission official Leonard Barasa attributed the violence in Trans Nzoia to unresolved land issues.

Mr Barasa spoke immediately after Salama trading centre was set ablaze by arsonists.

His remarks came less than two weeks after Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret Catholic diocese indicated that attacks in Uasin Gichu that followed the disputed election appeared anchored more on unresolved issues.

On Tuesday, more than 1,400 people from Western Province were displaced and over 200 animals stolen in Nandi North.

Displaced families
The district neighbours Uasin Gishu, where more than 150,000 people have been uprooted from their farms and about 100 killed in election violence.

Local residents have since renamed the farms that were predominantly occupied by people from other communities, a clear indication that they be taken up.

Currently, thousands of the displaced families camp in churches, police stations, schools and some Agricultural Society of Kenya showgrounds.

A Nation investigation points out to competition for land, tribalism and poverty as the key reasons why the violence was inevitable.

The clashes that seem to recur in the run-up to General Elections, are confined to the expansive region, especially the North Rift which is the agriculture basket of the country.

“There are several underlying factors on top of them land that the Government has never addressed to resolve skirmishes in Rift Valley during every election,” said Bishop Korir.

“It is important that the matter is resolved to avoid further killings,” appealed the man of the cloth when US assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer visited displaced people at Sacred Heart Cathedral recently.

It is becoming clear that communities in the region were evidently suspicious of each other before the General Election.

“Most of our people were left out during the allocation of land soon after independence. Outsiders were brought in and rewarded with large tracts ofland. This was unfair,” said Mr Rirei Kipkorir, a church elder in Uasin Gishu yesterday.

Local communities accuse the “outsiders” of benefiting from the land allocation during the Kenyatta administration.

“There is no doubt that one community benefited a lot from white highlands formerly owned by colonial settlers during the Kenyatta regime. This isevident by names given to huge tracts of land they own,” added Mr Kipkorir.

Most of the controversial farms in Uasin Gishu District, which witnessed violence in recent attacks, bear names of other communities, an issue that has not gone down well with local groups.

Such farms include Rurigi, Rogoini, Nyakinyua, Kiambaa, Kimuri, Yamumbi, and Munyaka. In Trans-Nzoia, farms such as Gitwamba and North Kisii, Goseta, Obomo, were the targets of the violence which saw the eviction of 10,000 people.

The names of some of the farms have since been changed and the residents have vowed never to allow those kicked out back. Although some of the outsiders targeted during the clashes purchased the land, it appears the residents do not want them to return even after the political crisis is resolved.

It is on this account that locals are holding talks on how to share the farms.

In some parts, price tags have been fixed on the abandoned pieces of land and local communities told they would be given priority in purchasing them.

“Although it is our ancestral land, we shall not take it for free. We are ready to purchase it at a reasonable price,” said a resident of Uasin Gishu, Mr Joseph Kigen.

Local communities strongly believe that President Moi failed to return the farms to their community when he was in power, a claim that partly explains why they ignored his advice to vote for President Kibaki during the elections campaign. “We cannot allow settler communities to continue occupying our land and vote for candidates not favoured by our people. They had to leave,” adds Eldoret South resident James Mosbei.

A number of residents interviewed said land was among the key causes of the clashes and that the polls were just a catalyst.

“Most of them found Eldoret and other towns in the North Rift as a potential places to invest. They bought fixed assets including land but failed to respect local communities,” notes Mr Mosbei.

At the same time, host communities were uncomfortable with the increasing population of the “outsiders” after some of them started venturing into political leadership.

“How can they come and rule us in our land? It is disrespectful for them to take advantage of their large numbers to oppress us,” added Mzee Jonathan Kosgei of Uasin Gishu.

Land issue a priority

[NB: This section pertains to the area near Kaimosi mission. The risk of cattle theft at Friends Theological College was a key security concern for us there.]

And, as the Government seeks a solution to the political crisis, it is paramount that land is given priority if tribal animosity is to be resolved among communities in the area, residents say.

Cattle theft targeting the “outsiders” animals, especially in Nandi North and South districts should also be addressed.

According to Nandi North district commissioner Mabeya Mogaka, the recent clashes at the border between Aldai and Hamisi that claimed six lives were mainly ignited by stock theft that later led to the burning of the houses. “The communities have co-existed peacefully for long.

They supported common candidates during the elections. It is said they can start fighting,” Mr Mogaka says.

He has asked local residents to return looted property and stolen animals to the owners to facilitate resumption of peace.

Aldai MP Sally Kosgei, who was among the first leaders to quell the tension among area residents, said most of them had intermarried and blamed the clashes on some politicians.

Full story from Nation

OAP pupil flees Kenyan violence

Kenya's oldest pupil, 88-year-old Kimani Nganga Maruge, has been unable to return to school this term because of the post-election violence.

"I can't go back to Kapkenduywa primary school because I will be killed by attackers," he told the BBC.

He is staying in a camp near the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, after his house was burnt down.

The great-grandfather holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to start primary school.

"I am kindly appealing to President [Mwai] Kibaki to remove me from this camp and take me far away from here where I will learn without any disturbances," he said.

Eldoret has seen some of the worst cases of violence since last month's disputed elections.

Human Rights Watch says it has evidence that local opposition Orange Democratic Movement officials helped organise attacks on members of Mr Kibaki's Kikuyu community in the area.

Mr Maruge is a Kikuyu.

Schools reopened after the election violence last week in most of Kenya, except in parts of the Rift Valley.

More than 650 people have died in the violence and some 250,000 driven from their homes.

Mr Maruge made history in 2004 when he enrolled at Kapkenduywa, after Kenya's government introduced free primary schooling in 2003.

Two of his 30 grandchildren attend the same school but they are in more senior grades.

Full story AND PHOTOS at BBC

Press sees long road ahead for Kenya

The press in Kenya sees a glimmer of hope for efforts to resolve their country's political crisis after President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga met on Thursday for the first time since last month's disputed presidential election.

Papers say the talks' mediator, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, deserves praise for just managing to get the two rivals to sit down together.

But they also warn that the meeting is only the first step, and that Kenya's problems are far more deep-seated than just a dispute over power between Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

Just getting the two protagonists to shake hands in front of cameras and publicly commit themselves to the search for a peaceful solution, is a significant achievement by Kofi Annan. Yet, we must not delude ourselves that anything stupendous has been achieved. It would be unrealistic to expect a quick fix to a complex problem. Ultimately, the assignment is about the search for a new constitutional and social order that provides adequate rights and protections for all groups.

Kofi Annan and his team will have to dig deep and dirty to unravel the cause of the tensions that bring them to Kenya. They will undoubtedly find that what the world is seeing is just the ears of the hippopotamus, with the mass of the body covered by waters so treacherous that they may drown even the best of intentions. Mr Annan and his team have managed to get our two protagonists to sit at the same table. Now they should talk openly and honestly about the bone of contention.

It's time to bring this mayhem to an end... It is incumbent upon leaders, especially President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, to take the ongoing dialogue seriously. The talks must not be reduced to a power play where consolidation or sharing power are top of the agenda. They must be about returning peace and reconciliation in the land.

Whatever the outcome, the decision by President Mwai Kibaki and his erstwhile opponent, Raila Odinga, to sit across the table in search of a solution to the prevailing political crisis is commendable. We now need to put the election behind us and think ahead as one people, and one nation.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Full story at BBC

Dilemma for donors over Kenya aid

By Adam Mynott BBC News, Nairobi

Kenya's biggest donors have warned the country explicitly or implicitly that aid to the country may be cut or ended unless there is a satisfactory outcome to the post-election crisis that has killed around 700 people and driven 250,000 from their homes.

The US, the biggest donor, and the UK, the second biggest donor, have both said that under the current circumstances, where there is doubt over the outcome of the presidential election on 27 December 2007, that it is not "business as usual" with the Kenyan government.

Britain has given $2m (£1m) to help with the humanitarian crisis resulting from the violence which followed the election, but both countries are said to be watching and waiting before pressing ahead with their full aid programmes.

The other big donor, the European Union, is already under pressure to cut its funding; the European Parliament has voted for a freeze on donor aid to Kenya.

It is not their decision - that lies with the European Commission - but the threat is real and it is hanging in the air.

When the European Development Commissioner, Louis Michel, was in Nairobi at the weekend I understand he made it clear to President Mwai Kibaki that unless moves were made to find a negotiated settlement to the crisis, then donor aid from the EU would be cut.

Kenya is not one of Africa's "most indebted nations" but it is a very poor country.

Around 60% of Kenya's population of 37m lives on less than a dollar a day and although Kenya's GDP has been growing for the past three or four years, many of the other economic and social indicators have dropped.

Kenya slipped five places in the 2005 Human Development Report, life expectancy has fallen (WHO) and Kenya is seen as one of the 20 most corrupt countries in the world (Transparency International).

The impression is given in some quarters, perhaps encouraged by the Kenyan government, that it does not need international aid and that it can stand on its own feet.

This is not the case.

The US gives $600-700m dollars in aid.

Full story from BBC

Mediation Effort 'Fails to Stem Violence, Tension'

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
NEWS25 January 2008
Posted to the web 25 January 2008 Nairobi

Violence and tension are still rife in parts of Kenya's Rift Valley Province, despite ongoing mediation efforts to resolve the political crisis, the secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), Abbas Gullet, said on 25 January.

"We all support the peace process and commend the efforts being made to resolve the crisis and to assist the thousands of Kenyans who have been displaced but the violence continuing in parts of the country today needs urgent attention," Gullet said at a news conference at the KRCS headquarters in the capital, Nairobi.

Gullet said violence and tension had escalated since 23 January in the volatile district of Molo, Rift Valley Province, where 60 percent of a town known as Total had been burned down.

"What we saw in Molo - Total and Mau Summit areas - is worrying; senseless ethnic fighting has led to deaths and wanton destruction of property; we won't go into the reasons as to why the attacks and counter-attacks are continuing as we are mainly concerned with alleviating the suffering of the people," Gullet said.

He added that KRCS staff had reports that the Total violence had resulted in three deaths and at least 50 civilians injured. Some of the injured received first aid from the KRCS before being taken to local hospitals nearby.

Gullet said KRCS was also concerned about the security situation in Nakuru, the provincial capital, where violence erupted in the night of 24 January into the morning of 25 January, with reports of three dead, tens of people injured and several houses burnt.

"Since the start of the post-election violence, KRCS has had access to all the affected areas; it was only this morning in Nakuru that our staff have reported that road blocks erected by the warring groups had prevented them from reaching Total and Mau Summit areas of Molo," he said. "However, we have learnt that the government's security forces have managed to dismantle the road blocks and our staff are making their way into the places affected by this latest wave of violence."

So far, according to government figures, the violence has claimed at least 680 lives countrywide and displaced more than 255,000. The government and humanitarian agencies have been providing relief aid to the displaced living in camps in various towns and relocation efforts are under way for many of the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

African Union-mandated efforts to resolve the crisis resulted in the first face-to-face meeting, since the elections on 27 December 2007, between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga on 24 January. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is leading a team of eminent Africans in the mediation efforts.

At the same time, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) announced on 25 January that it was embarking on the documentation and investigation of serious violations of human rights in the post-election violence that has rocked parts of the country. The commission said an initial report would be available in two months.

"Serious human rights violations have taken place in Kenya immediately before and following the announcement of the disputed 2007 presidential elections," Winfred Lichuma, a KNCHR commissioner, told reporters in Nairobi. "The violations have taken place particularly in Western Kenya, Nyanza Province, Rift Valley Province, Nairobi and the Coast regions. Hundreds have lost their lives, and even more have been displaced, by this violence that has taken ethnic dimensions."

She said the commission was mandated by law to "investigate, on its own initiative or upon a complaint made by any person or group of persons, the violations of any human rights".

The commission, she said, was sending a strong message to those behind the violence that it would be pursuing the agenda for justice and hold them accountable.

The commission has enlisted the expertise of an international not-for-profit organisation, No Peace Without Justice, to assist it in the documentation and investigations. The organisation is providing training and expert support to teams of investigators the commission will dispatch to various parts of the country.

"There cannot be true peace without justice and no justice without accountability," Lichuma said in a statement. "Parallel to the ongoing search for a political settlement among the main political actors, the search for justice and accountability must begin in earnest.

"The search for justice and accountability must be blind to political positions, or ethnic identities," she said. "A violator is a violator."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

Copyright © 2008 UN Integrated Regional Information Networks. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Full story from IRIN at AllAfrica

Latest News and Features

KENYA: Fears over rising IDP numbers in Mt Elgon

NAIROBI, 25 January 2008 (IRIN) - The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the volatile district of Mt Elgon in western Kenya could increase due to the effects of post-election violence that has hit parts of the country, according to an official of the Kenya Red Cross Society.full report

KENYA: Mediation effort “fails to stem violence, tension”

NAIROBI, 25 January 2008 (IRIN) - Violence and tension are still rife in parts of Kenya's Rift Valley Province, despite ongoing mediation efforts to resolve the political crisis, the secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), Abbas Gullet, said on 25 January. full report

KENYA: David Chege-Waweru: “I couldn’t leave my room for five days”

NAIROBI, 24 January 2008 (IRIN) - David Chege-Waweru, 35, was working as a field officer for the agro-forestry NGO Wang Ndonya Eternity Organisation in Migori, Nyanza Province, when he was forced to leave by post-election violence. full report

KENYA: Massive displacement hurting education in the Rift Valley

NAROK, 24 January 2008 (IRIN) - Thousands of Kenyan students have still not started the new school year since the 27 December polls plunged parts of the country into chaos, raising concerns about the effect massive displacement and continued instability could have on education.full report

KENYA: Concern over Molo IDPs as camp closures continue

NAIROBI, 24 January 2008 (IRIN) - A government directive to close camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the country has raised concerns among aid workers, especially over the plight of IDPs in the volatile district of Molo in Rift Valley Province, where thousands live in at least 50 congested sites.full report

Full stories from UN’s IRIN service

No comments: