Friday, February 1, 2008

More headlines - Late Fri 2/1/2008

1 - Kenya: In Diplomatic Intensive Care

By Nick Wadhams/Nairobi
Friday, Feb. 01, 2008

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon jetted into Kenya on Friday for a round of talks aimed at easing Kenya's post-election crisis, traveling what has been a path well-trodden by high-profile diplomats as the world tries to keep the chaos here from mutating into all-out ethnic war.

Already in Kenya was Ban's predecessor, Kofi Annan, who is mediating negotiations between President Mwai Kibaki's government and the opposition Orange Democratic Movement of Raila Odinga, who claims that Kibaki's associates stole the vote through massive vote rigging. Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, who is a U.N. expert on humanitarian issues as well as a former First Lady of Mozambique, has flown in to help bring the parties together. Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mpaka is here, Ghana's President John Kufuor came and went, and South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, a businessman who helped negotiate an end to apartheid, is expected to arrive shortly.

The steady flow is a stark contrast to other crises in Africa. Last week, for example, the International Rescue Committee issued a report saying that 45,000 continue to die every month as a result of Congo's civil war. Zimbabwe's economy is still deteriorating fast — well beyond the international spotlight. And Amnesty International said Friday that conflict between the army and armed groups in Chad is only getting worse.

Analysts say there are many reasons for Kenya to get so more attention: It is an economic hub whose port delivers supplies to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan; and it is an important U.S. ally in the War on Terror.

And the potential for even greater mayhem in Kenya remains high. Both Annan and former U.S. President Bill Clinton have acknowledged their failure to prevent or stop the Rwanda genocide.

And while western pundits may dismiss the comparison, for Kenyans, the fear of a second Rwanda is very real. "I can see the beginnings of an ethnic conflict, I really can," says Mwalimu Mati, a local political activist. "Everyday, you've got more deaths, and these are in slums; they say Kibaki supporters were attacked or Odinga supporters were attacked, that's just code for Kikuyu and Luo [the respective tribes of the president and his rival]."

The diplomats are venturing into a country with a power vacuum. "I think Kibaki is getting very poor advice. He's showing no personal leadership in this crisis; I'm not quite sure who around him is making the decisions," says Richard Leakey, the world famous paleontologist and chairman of, who is active in Kenyan politics as an anti-corruption campaigner.

"I think that's a large part of the problem — the country feels at sea without a captain. But ODM has made some pretty outrageous statements too. Everybody is playing bad guy on this and nobody is trying to play good guy."

Annan announced some progress in negotiations on Friday evening, telling a news conference that the two sides had pledged to try to end the violence and agreed to an agenda for future talks. Nonetheless, killings continued in western Kenya, with at least nine people slain, including a police officer.

So far, about 850 people have been killed in Kenya's crisis, and at least 250,000 displaced. On Thursday, the killing of a second ODM lawmaker in three days threatened to ignite further violence that has driven Kibaki's fellow Kikuyu tribesmen from areas dominated by predominantly Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin followers of Odinga.

Conversely, Odinga supporters have also been driven from Kikuyu strongholds. "All international community, the whole world is watching you, the future is on your shoulders," U.N. Secretary-General Ban told a news conference upon his arrival. "This must stop, this is up to the Kenyan people. You must act according to all established practices in the modern world."

The United States has offered the services of the FBI in the inquiry into the death of the ODM lawmaker who was gunned down outside his home on Tuesday.

Find this article at:,8599,1709156,00.html

2 - Kibaki Insists ODM Should Go to Court

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
NEWS 2 February 2008 Posted to the web 1 February 2008 Nairobi

President Kibaki has stood his ground Orange Democratic Movement should seek legal redress over its claims of a stolen victory in the presidential election.

He said this as the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki Moon, made a direct intervention on the Kenyan crisis.

President Kibaki also blamed the Opposition for instigating the widespread violence that has rocked Kenya, saying it was a pre-meditated plot.

On the ongoing mediation effort, Kibaki noted that the solution does not lie in power-sharing but in a long-term solution addressing the underlying problems.

Kibaki, addressing the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa where the Kenyan post-election crisis formed part of top agenda, said the allegations of irregularities should be referred to the legal system.

Kenya erupted into widespread violence on December 29 when President Kibaki was sworn in despite claims by his rival ODM candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, and his party, that the tallying of presidential ballots was highly flawed.

On Friday, he said: "In such situations, the accepted rule is to resort to the established constitutional and legal mechanisms."

Kibaki told African presidents and members of the international community: "For us in Kenya, the Judiciary has over the years arbitrated many electoral disputes, and the current one should not be an exception."

He said the Kenyan dispute was nothing new, noting, "few close-to-call elections have passed without being marred by allegations of irregularities, even in advanced and long-established democracies".

"Your Excellencies, Kenya has since Independence, on a consistent and regular basis held general elections every five years without interruption. Where disputes have arisen, they have been resolved through the existing legal mechanisms under our constitutional framework.

Indeed, controversies over election results are a reality in any democracy," said Kibaki.

He added: "Unfortunately, the Opposition rejected the adherence to this key democratic principle, and chose, instead, not to respect the rule of law."

Kibaki also blamed the Opposition for the bloody aftermath of the elections.

The President said the violence was "mainly perpetrated and fuelled through incitement and manipulation of ethnic differences".

"Indeed, the ongoing crisis erupted after the Opposition disputed the outcome of the Presidential elections, and went ahead to instigate a campaign of civil unrest and violence. There is overwhelming evidence to indicate that the violence was pre-meditated, and systematically directed at particular communities," he added.

He said as a result of the violence, 250,000 Kenyans have been internally displaced, property worth billions of shillings destroyed, and more than 800 Kenyans have died.

"We in Kenya, like all of you, are saddened by the violence and the negative impact that the crisis has had on our country and people, the East African region, and the continent as a whole," Kibaki said.

He said the Government initiated urgent measures to stop these acts of violence, and provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced people.

"Arrangements are also under way to resettle the displaced victims even as we search for a lasting solution to the current political crisis."

President Kibaki thanked both President John Kufuor of Ghana and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda for visiting the country to assist in resolving the dispute.

He said the Government welcomed the facilitation mission of three eminent African personalities led by former UN Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, noting they have embarked on the facilitation efforts.

He termed the situation a Kenyan problem and said he was confident that the country will arrive at a lasting settlement.

He said he hoped that the partner states in the East African Community and African Union will remain engaged in the process up to the end.

On possible power-sharing with the Opposition, Kibaki said: "The solution does not lie only in power sharing ... If the democratic process has to be followed to the end, and the final end should be sharing of the cake, then we shall never have peace because there will always be unsatisfied and dissatisfied parties."

He added: "We view the ongoing dialogue as essential to long term strategies to address these challenges, and in providing us with durable solutions." The President, at the same time, reiterated his commitment to finding a lasting political solution that will seek to identify and address, not just the immediate actions that would restore full normalcy, but also long-term measures that respond to the underlying problems.

Noting that he had embraced fully national dialogue, President Kibaki said his Government had put in place mechanisms to address all underlying problems rather than rush for quick-fix solutions.

"We view the ongoing dialogue as essential to long term strategies to address these challenges and in providing us with durable solutions," said President Kibaki.

Saying that Africa has a responsibility to defend her nascent institutions that must be allowed to develop, President Kibaki invited the African Union Commission to lend its voice and support these efforts.

In this regard, President Kibaki said his Government is in the process of setting up a Truth and Justice Commission to address all the issues as part of the long-term solution to Kenya's problems.

Copyright © 2008 The East African Standard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Full story from East African Standard

3 - Kenya Peace Plan Reached, but Thievery Persists

[Photo] Joao Silva for The New York Times
Looters pillaging a house on Friday in Kericho, Kenya. Although Nairobi seemed subdued, ethnic revenge intensified in the countryside and travelers were robbed at roadblocks.

Published: February 2, 2008

NANDI HILLS, KenyaThe road from Eldoret to Kericho used to be one of the prettiest drives in Kenya, a ribbon of asphalt threading through lush tea farms, bushy sugar cane and green humpbacked hills. Now it is a gantlet of machete-wielding teenagers, some chewing stalks of sugar cane, others stumbling drunk.

On Friday there were no fewer than 20 checkpoints in the span of 100 miles, and at each barricade — a downed telephone pole, a gnarled tree stump — mobs of rowdy young men jumped in front of cars, yanked at door handles and pulled out knives.

Their actions did not seem to be motivated by ethnic tension, like much of the violence that has killed more than 800 people in Kenya since a flawed election in December.

It was much simpler than that.

Give us money,” demanded one young man who stood defiantly in the road with a bow in his hands and a quiver of poisoned arrows on his back.

On other fronts, there were signs of progress. The government and the opposition, who had been blaming each other for Kenya’s rapid plunge, signed a peace plan for the first time on Friday night to help defuse tensions and bring an end to the violence.

And despite fears that Kenya would explode again after a second opposition lawmaker was gunned down on Thursday, there were no reports of mass revenge killings. The volatile slums ringing Nairobi, the capital, seemed to be quiet.

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, visited Kenya on Friday and said he was “encouraged by the constructive spirit that has prevailed throughout my discussions so far,” though he said he was still very concerned about the unrest.

“It has led to an intolerable level of deaths, destruction, displacement and suffering,” he said. “It has to stop.”

To help stem the violence, the agreement reached on Friday outlined specific steps to build peace, including refraining from provocative statements, holding joint meetings to promote stability and disbanding militias.

But it was unclear how the plan would address the thornier fact that both sides still claim to have won the election. There is also a question at this point about how well Kenyans are following their leaders.

Far from the political negotiations, Kenya’s countryside seems to be settling into a bizarre state of lawlessness, uncharacteristic of this country and more reminiscent of the checkpoint culture in Somalia or Darfur, in Sudan.

Roadblocks have been a problem since the elections, with angry mobs demanding to see the identification cards of passers-by to determine their ethnic identities. Such clashes led to the deaths of several people a few weeks ago.

But now a different kind of roadblock seems to be taking root, one based more on opportunism than on politics. After one young man extracted a toll of sorts, he quickly examined the bill and stuffed it into his pocket. In case there were any questions, another armed teenager stood nearby, wearing fatigues and a jaunty skipper’s hat.

Kenya’s troubles started in late December when President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of an election that outside observers called deeply flawed. Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, who narrowly lost, said the government had rigged the election, and some Western observers agree.

Many people here tend to vote along ethnic lines, and this election, perhaps more than any other in Kenya’s history, polarized the country.

Mr. Kibaki is Kikuyu and Mr. Odinga is Luo, two of the bigger ethnic groups, and in the mayhem that erupted after the disputed vote, members of ethnic groups that backed Mr. Odinga slaughtered hundreds of Kikuyus and drove them off their land. Kikuyus eventually took their revenge, killing Luos and others.

Throughout all this, Mr. Kibaki has mostly kept quiet, leaving the opposition-bashing to his inner circle of advisers. But on Friday he accused opposition leaders of instigating “a campaign of civil unrest and violence,” a statement that seemed to go against the spirit of the peace agreement.

“There is overwhelming evidence to indicate that the violence was premeditated, and systematically directed at particular communities,” Mr. Kibaki said while attending a summit meeting of African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In Kericho, a stunningly fertile area where much of Kenya’s tea is grown, young men rampaged across the hillsides on Friday, looting and burning dozens of homes. They said they were avenging the death of their representative in Parliament, David Kimutai Too, who was killed Thursday by a policeman.

Police officials quickly announced that Mr. Too’s death was a “crime of passion,” saying a policeman shot his girlfriend and Mr. Too for seeing each other behind his back.

But many opposition supporters reject that, especially because another opposition lawmaker was gunned down on Tuesday in suspicious circumstances. Many of the men burning homes in Kericho were Kalenjin, the ethnic group of Mr. Too, and the houses crackling in flames belonged to Kikuyus.

Kenya’s security forces are struggling to contain this. On Friday a police squad dismantled roadblocks along the Eldoret-Kericho road, sending the young men with the bows and arrows scattering into the tea bushes.

The police arrested several suspects looting a burned truck that had been hauling fish. Hundreds of pounds of partly seared fish were spilled across the road.

“Look at this,” said Joseph Mele, a police commander. “We are destroying our own economy.”
But then Mr. Mele brightened.

“Don’t worry — we’ll get a handle on this. Tell the tourists to come back,” he said, referring to the exodus of safarigoers who have left Kenya because of the turmoil. “We’ll protect them.”

Reuben Kyama contributed reporting from Nairobi, Kenya, and Kennedy Abwao from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Full story from NY Times

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