Friday, January 11, 2008

Today's Headlines - Opposition calls more protests and Annan expected to broker talks - 1/11/2008

Kenya opposition calls 3 days of protest

By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer 4 minutes ago

NAIROBI, Kenya -
Kenya's main opposition party said Friday it plans three days of mass rallies next week to protest President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election, which has sparked waves of deadly violence across the East African nation.

The African Union president, who had been trying to mediate a compromise between the opposition leader Raila Odinga and Kibaki, left Kenya on Friday after failing to persuade the two even to meet….

Police have banned all rallies since the violence broke out, and have used tear gas, water cannons and live bullets fired over people's heads to block previous attempts to assemble.

"Kenyans are entitled to protest peacefully at this blatant violation of their fundamental rights," Anyang Nyongo, secretary-general of the Orange Democratic Movement, said in announcing rallies in more than 20 locations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Tony Gachoka, spokesman for the opposition party, said earlier that the protest call was a response to the failure of the African Union mediation.

"Due to the large numbers of people expected we request the police to provide us with security," ODM said in a statement. Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said he will announce a decision about the rally request by Wednesday "based on the intelligence reports we receive."

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Kenya election protests to resume

Kenya's main opposition party is resuming its calls for mass protests after last month's disputed elections.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has told police he will hold a mass rally in Nairobi's Uhuru park next Wednesday.

The announcement follows the failure of efforts to mediate in the crisis by Ghana's President John Kufuor, who is the African Union chairman.

Violent protests over alleged election fraud have left some 600 people dead and the police have banned all rallies.

The BBC's Karen Allen in the capital, Nairobi, says the resumption of protests is a sign of the growing frustration by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

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Kenya opposition calls street protests

Fri Jan 11, 2008 8:46am EST
By Wangui Kanina and Alistair Thomson

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's opposition on Friday called three days of nationwide protests next week to put pressure on President Mwai Kibaki's government after the collapse of mediation efforts over a disputed election.

Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) also called for international sanctions on Kibaki, who was re-elected in the December 27 poll, saying world leaders would be irresponsible to trust him with "a single cent".

"We are asking our countrymen and women with whom we feel such great sadness and solidarity to join us in demonstrations countrywide on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week," ODM secretary general Anyang' Nyong'o told reporters.

Odinga's supporters say Kibaki stole the vote.

"Kenyans are entitled to protest peacefully at this blatant violation of their fundamental rights," Nyong'o said, adding that Kibaki's team looked "hell-bent" on clinging to power.

The ODM said protests would be held in nearly 30 places around Kenya, and that it had asked police to provide security for a mass rally on Wednesday in a central Nairobi park.

Previous protests have led to riots and vicious clashes between Odinga's supporters and the security forces, adding to a death toll of around 500 since the ballot.

The government has said it will not allow more protests, and police in riot gear patrolled parts of the capital on Friday.

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Annan to Help in Kenya, Group Says

Published: January 11, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya (New York Times) — With no sign of a breakthrough in the Kenyan political crisis, it appears that a high-profile mediator may be flying in to help: Kofi Annan.

The African Union announced on Thursday that Mr. Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, was taking over the role played by President John Kufuor of Ghana, who is also the chairman of the African Union.

Mr. Kufuor spent the past two days in Kenya trying to broker a truce between the government and opposition leaders to end the crisis here, which erupted after flawed elections last month and left hundreds dead from violence. Mr. Kufuor failed to get the two sides even to meet, but he insisted that all was not lost.

“Both sides agreed there should be an end to the violence, and they also agreed there should be dialogue,” he said.

Mr. Annan will lead a panel of African dignitaries who are coming to try to bring the two sides together, Mr. Kufuor said.

There was no immediate comment from Mr. Annan about the new role, but Ban Ki-moon, his successor at the United Nations, views the choice as a “positive development” and called Mr. Annan on Thursday morning to express his “strong support,” Mr. Ban’s spokeswoman said.

Many diplomats here are pessimistic that a solution will be found anytime soon because neither Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president, nor Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, is budging.

Both claim to have won the presidential election on Dec. 27. Western observers have said that there was widespread evidence that the president’s party interfered with the vote tallying process and rigged the results to stay in power.

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KENYA: "They came every night"

TIGONI, 11 January 2008 (IRIN) - Susan Ouma was clearly relieved to have found sanctuary after a week of terrifying attacks which forced her to sleep out in the fields where she had been picking tea leaves for Unilever’s Mabrook farm. full report

KENYA: Mary: “It's like everyone is drunk over something you can't understand”

NAIROBI, 11 January 2008 (IRIN) - Mary, a 31-year-old Kikuyu from Kenya's Rift Valley province, who did not want to be identified, is married to a Luo from western Kenya. She had been living in Limuru, 35km northwest of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, for eight years. After the announcement of the election results, pro-opposition ethnic groups started driving Kikuyus – the ethnic group of President Mwai Kibaki – out of Rift Valley. Many fled to Limuru, a predominantly Kikuyu area. In revenge, Kikuyu gangs in Limuru began targeting non-Kikuyus, including Mary's husband and in-laws. full report

KENYA: Lucy Awino: “I pray that things will go back to how they were before”

NAIROBI, 11 January 2008 (IRIN) - Lucy Awino, 40, moved to Limuru, 35km northwest of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, in 1975. The town is dominated by President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group. She is a Luo from western Kenya, the same ethnic group as the leader of the opposition, Raila Odinga. When violence broke out after the disputed presidential election results, Kikuyu gangs began targeting non-Kikuyus in the area, including Lucy and her seven children.

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