Sunday, February 3, 2008

Today's Headlines - Sun 2/03/2008

updated 2 hours, 20 minutes ago
Kenya opposition: We need help

  • Security forces stand by while killing goes on, says ODM spokesman
  • Killing of two ODM members was "politically targeted without question," he adds
  • Odinga, Kibaki have been feuding since disputed December 27 election
  • At least 863 people have been killed, 261,000 displaced in post-election violence

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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Two days after reaching a plan with the Kenyan government to end violence that has wracked the country for more than a month, the opposition party asked both the United Nations and the African Union to send in peacekeepers.

"The level of violence in Kenya is unprecedented. It's on a terrifying scale and it has not really diminished," Salim Lone, spokesman for the Orange Democratic Movement, told CNN from London.

The killing continued over the weekend, as machete-wielding tribal gangs roamed the western part of the country, torching homes and hunting each other down.

"The security forces seem incapable of stopping this carnage, and in some cases, they actually stand by while the killing goes on," Lone said. "For sure, international assistance is needed."

ODM leader Raila Odinga called for peacekeepers in Kenyaduring a meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Watch a discussion of what both sides need to do to resolve the crisis »

"People who have lived together for generations have, after the fraudulent election, turned on each other," Lone said.

The spasm of political violence erupted soon after the December 27 elections, when Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the vote to win re-election.

Bloody street battles between supporters of Kibaki -- a member of the Kikuyu tribe -- and Odinga , who belongs to the Luo tribe, soon took on ethnic overtones. At least 863 people have died and another 261,000 driven from their homes, the Kenyan Red Cross said.

Kibaki, who was also at the summit, told leaders on Saturday that the opposition was provoking the violence. Odinga countered that Kibaki's "aggressive statements" were to blame.

Lone, the spokesman, said the recent killing of two members of the ODM was "politically targeted without question."

David Too was shot and killed in the town of Eldoret Thursday. Two days earlier, gunmen shot and killed fellow ODM lawmaker Mugabe Were outside his Nairobi-area home.

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The party has said the killings were part of a plan to reduce the number of opposition members of parliament.

"These were new members of parliament, young members. One was 39, another 40," Lone said Sunday. "They were killed in cold blood."

Charles Matathia, a Nairobi writer who helps edit the literary journal 'Kwani?', told CNN that Kenyans can bring the situation under control themselves.

" External intervention isn't necessary yet," he said. "The government needs to step up. Kibaki has to actively engage the people and be seen (as) in charge -- as head of state, government and commander in chief. The solutions are possible on a very local level," he said.

As example, he held up Kenyans' response to the humanitarian crisis that the violence has begat.

"Half of what has been achieved (in terms of helping the affected) has been everyday people, rising up and pulling together. Absolutely, we are still at the point we can do that (with the violence)."

Last week, Odinga and Kiyaki met with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and agreed to a four-item agenda that includes stopping the violence with 15 days.

The parties agreed to disband illegal armed groups, to refrain from making "irresponsible and provocative" statements, and to hold joint meetings to promote peace and reconciliation. It also calls on police to end "brutality" and "excessive force."

The two sides resume their meeting Monday and continue through the week. E-mail to a friend
CNN's Nic Robertson, Zain Verjee and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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