Friday, February 8, 2008

Annan Sees Progress in Kenya Talks - Fri 2/08/2008

Published: February 9, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya —

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is brokering peace talks in Kenya, said on Friday that no deal toward a durable political solution had been reached but that progress was steadily being made.

Mr. Annan has spent the past week trying to nudge Kenya’s government and top opposition leaders toward a compromise that could end the turmoil and violence that exploded last month after a disputed election. More than 1,000 people have been killed, and Kenya’s economy — and reputation for stability — have taken a serious beating.

“We have agreed that what is needed is a political solution,” Mr. Annan said on Friday. “We are actively discussing the terms of that solution.”

He added, “I hope next week we’ll have firm details.”

Kenyans had been hoping for more.

On Friday, rumors raced through Nairobi, the capital, that a breakthrough had been reached and that the two sides were going to join together in a government of national unity. People huddled around television sets and fine-tuned the aerials of their radios, eager for news.

Kenya plunged into turmoil in late December after the country’s electoral commission declared that the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, had narrowly beaten the top opposition leader, Raila Odinga. Many election observers have said there was widespread evidence of vote rigging. Some observers claimed that the government interfered with the vote-tallying process to give Mr. Kibaki the edge.

A person close to the political negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said on Friday evening that the two sides were close to sealing a deal.

The opposition has agreed to recognize Mr. Kibaki as the president and drop its demand for a new election, the person said, and the president’s negotiators have reciprocated by talking of a “broad-based government.”

Many Kenyans have said that a meaningful political settlement is the only way to end fighting between opposition supporters and those who back the government. A power-sharing agreement has been one of the possible solutions floated in recent days, and Western officials, including American diplomats, have tried to throw their weight behind this.

Though Mr. Annan said on Friday that talk of a coalition government was “premature,” he emphasized that “there is ground for optimism” and that “we have narrowed down the issues.”

The election controversy has stirred up deep-seated grievances over political, economic and land issues, pitting opposition supporters against members of the president’s ethnic group and groups perceived to support the government. Many people in Kenya tend to vote along ethnic lines, and much of the post-election bloodshed seems to have been ethnically driven, though many participants insist their motives are political.

Western governments have been increasingly alarmed about the unrest in Kenya, which up until December was celebrated as one of the most stable and promising countries in Africa. The American Embassy in Kenya recently sent letters to 10 politicians and businessmen in both the government and the opposition, warning them that they would be barred from entering the United States if the embassy determined that they had instigated or participated in violence.

The Canadian and British governments have said they are considering similar measures.

The pressure may be working. Mr. Odinga indicated on Thursday that he is willing to back off his initial demand that Mr. Kibaki step down.

Ngari Gituku, a spokesman for Mr. Kibaki’s political party, said this could be a welcome step forward.

“The president doesn’t have a problem with a government of national unity, but the modalities of sharing responsibilities have to be carefully worked out,” Mr. Gituku said. “That’s going to take some time.”

Kennedy Abwao contributed reporting from Nairobi.

Feed the Hungry - FUM/AGLI Update on Quaker Relief Efforts - 2/08/2008

By David Zarembka
8 February 2008

LUGARI DISTRICT, Kenya - Two weeks ago Friends (Quakers) in Kenya held a Peace Conference in Kakamega sponsored by the Friends Church in Kenya, Friends United Meeting--Africa Ministries Office, and Friends World Committee for Consultation--Africa Section. [NB: See right sidebar for links to read documents out of that peace conference.]

At that meeting, it was decided to form a committee which has been titled "Friends Church Peace Team" (FCPT). I was appointed to the committee. The committee has formed an "Emergency Relief and Reconciliation Programme."

As its first major activity, yesterday about 30 Friends visited a number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Trans Nzoia District next to Mt Elgon in the Rift Valley. [NB: The nearest major city is Kitale; the area borders Uganda.]

With funds donated from the United States, England, and elsewhere through FUM, a truckful of food--maize (corn), beans, rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil, blankets, and soap were be to delivered.

Logistical challenges
My wife, Gladys, and I were assigned to provide the forty 200-pound bags of maize because maize is cheaper here in Lugari District, as this is the maize belt region of Kenya and has a surplus for export elsewhere. Gladys spent Monday and Tuesday with two youth bagging the 40 bags at Florence
and Alfred Machayo's home.

Then on Wednesday, she waited all day for the truck she had hired to take the maize to Kakamega. It never showed up so she arranged for another truck to come at 5:00 AM on Thursday morning. When it had not shown up by 8:00 AM, we called John Muhanji of FUM who was organizing the distribution. He decided to have the truck from Kakamega coming with the rest of the goods drop by the Machayo's to pick up the maize (and us as we traveled the five miles or so to her house). This worked out well and actually saved the transport costs.

The people who had gathered in Kakamega came up north in three vehicles and together with the truck we drove to a junction near where we were going to distribute the food. Henry Mukwanja who works for the National Council of [Churches] of Kenya (NCCK) in that region had identified about ten places where approximately 4000 people had not received any assistance from the Red Cross, the Government of Kenya, or the World Food Program.

The people noted that the Red Cross trucks passed them by to deliver food and supplies to the Kikuyu who were in an IDP camp down the road--they as non-Kikuyu saw this as another example of the Government's favoritism to the Kikuyu over the other people in the country.

Food distribution
Gladys and I joined the third group which was going to a small shopping center (5 or 6 small shops) on the side of the road called Misemwa with a Seventh Day Adventist Church. Officially there were 1600 people in 259 families (for an average of about 6 people per family).

The amount of food we unloaded seemed massive--14 two-hundred pound bags of maize, for example.

[NB: more than a ton of the staple crop, 'maize'--white corn with large kernels, similar to hominy, that is coarsely ground and mixed with boiling water to make a thick porridge or paste called "ugali."]

Yet each family was given about 10 pounds of maize, 2 pounds of beans, a blanket, a cup of sugar, a half cup of salt, a few ounces of cooking oil, and for the families with children, some rice. This would only be enough for a few days!

Of course the place was packed with people waiting patiently for the distribution--many women (I estimated that 2/3 of the families were headed by women), many small children (the older ones, I hope, were in school), old men, youth, etc.

These people were not Kikuyu, the group usually targeted in the violence in western Kenya, but mostly Luhya and some Sabaot (Kalenjin group). There was no internally displaced persons camp as we are going to in Turbo since the people live in houses in the area. For example, in the small Seventh Day Adventist Church eight women were living with their children. Others had rented a room in the area and a few were staying with relatives. One woman told me that she had moved in with her husband and four children--and a fifth was well on its way--to live with her sister who also had four children and there was not enough food all of a sudden for this vastly expanded family.

All the displaced people had come with nothing more than what they could carry.

As usual when one delves into the details of conflict, the situation here is different from the usual simplistic explanation of Kibaki versus Raila, Kikuyu versus Luo. These people had fled from Mt Elgon where there has been an active conflict for the last year and a half.

Background on the Mt Elgon conflict
Human Rights groups in Bungoma had tallied 400 dead and 150,000 or more displaced before the election violence began on December 30. Note that this compares to the official count of 1000 dead and 300,000 displaced in the election violence. In other words, some conflicts are "more important" than others. But the fact that this conflict was not properly dealt with in that time indicates why so much of Kenya could erupt into similar violence.

The [earlier and long-running Mt. Elgon] conflict was over land between two clans of the Sabaot group, the Soy and Ndorobo.

The first group of Sabaot, [the Soy] which thinks that they have not been dealt fairly in the land distribution by the Government, have formed the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLBF). They have automatic rifles and retreat into the forests on Mt Elgon to hide. We had seen an area on Mt Elgon where every house on the hillside had been destroyed. The election results were used by the Sabaot Land Defense Force to attack anyone from another group in their area. This included the Kikuyu who fled to the camp nearby and then the Bugusu of the Luhya group.

I had heard of a case where 11 Bugusu were executed by the SLBF and the bodies thrown into a latrine. While I have never heard any reference to this massacre in the media (compare this to the 17 who were burned to death in the church near Eldoret), this was confirmed by a doctor at the Webuye Hospital where the exhumed bodies were later taken. So it did not take much for the Bugusu to flee.

Then the Ndorobo who were supplied by the Kikuyu in their trading across the border into Uganda attacked the Sabaot for attacking the Kikuyu. So Sabaot also had to flee to Misemwa.

I talked at length with Mildred, one of the 8 women living in the church. She has six children, the youngest on her shoulder as we talked. Her husband had left for the day when the SLDF in red uniforms (ie, this is an organized rebel group) came and told them to leave. So she did. She has no idea where her husband is and there is really little way of him finding out to where they have fled.

She does not want to return to her farm on Mt Elgon where she had lived for 12 years, but has little idea of what the future will bring for her.

Andrew and his family of wife and four children (he was also holding his youngest child on his shoulder) were attacked in the middle of the night and fled down the mountain with nothing but what they had on. He lives in a room in a house nearby. He says that he survives by doing day labor when he can. He also told me he did not want to go back.

When I asked people [about their former homes], they told me that the land on Mt Elgon is very fertile and well-watered and that is why they had bought plots there in the past.

While the media, both internationally and locally, reports (as the Government would like them to) that the situation in Kenya is calm and returning to normal, this is clearly not the case on Mt Elgon. The previous night there had been some killings (unconfirmed) and hundreds more had fled down the mountain. These newly displaced people were not on the list of 259 families to receive the aid we had brought.

Evaluating the distribution efforts and impact of intervention
After three hours at Misemwa distributing the relief supplies and talking with the people, after a short sermon and prayer, we left and joined the people at a small "hotel" where we all got a snack and discussed the pro's and con's of what we had done for the day.

For example, in our case, since the site was not a "camp" and this was the first time that the group had received any assistance, there was no distribution system in place as occurs with the Lumakanda group in Turbo. On Saturday Gladys and I will go to Kakamega to meet with the Friends Church Peace Team to decide what we will do next.

Although the food seemed to be little in relationship to the need, I still felt good knowing that we had helped as we are able. In this kind of work, one cannot get discouraged by the unmet needs, but must focus on what you have accomplished. --David Zarembka

[NB-Words of wisdom for all of life, isn't it, Friends?]

If people only eat well for a few days, it is still better than having to scrounge around for a little food and going to sleep hungry. Moreover, as I have learned in the past, visiting people who have been the victims of violence is perhaps one of the most important peacemaking activities one can initially do.

As the Burundians say, "A real Friend comes in the time of need" (I am the one who capitalized the "F" in friend).


Donations for the Relief and Reconciliation Programme of the Friends Church Peace Team can be made online by clicking here, or by mailing a check to:

Friends United Meeting
Global Ministries
101 Quaker Hill Dr
Richmond IN 47374

[Kindly earmark your contribution: "Kenya Relief Fund."]


Some links to stories and background on the Mt Elgon conflict:

Wikipedia on Mt Elgon District of Kenya

Anglican Church report and background

Jan 2008 update on Mt Elgon IDPs from Kenya's Daily Nation

Dec 2007 IRIN (UN) report on growing problems for IDPs on Mt Elgon

Nov 2007 IRIN (UN) report on Mt Elgon IDPs

Sept 2007 BNET report on Mt Elgon conflict

'Mountain Voices' from Panos Institute - Oral Testimony Programme (UK)

More Headlines – Fri. 02/08/2008

Latest news - Diplomatic Initiatives Multiply in Attempt to Resolve Kenya Crisis- Voice of America

Breaking news - No peace deal [YET] in Kenya, says Annan – Press Association

More breaking news - U.S. Intensifies Efforts to End Deadly Conflict in Kenya - NY Times

1 - Annan hopes for Kenya political deal in days - Reuters
2 - Kenya parties see progress but no final deal – Reuters
3 - Progress at Kenya's peace talks – BBC
4 - Kenyan parties 'agree coalition principles' - Telegraph
5 - Annan meets Kibaki and Raila - Nation
6 - UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Arrives in Nairobi – Voice of America
7 - Kenya policeman denies murdering 2 protesters – Reuters
8 - Displaced Kenyans Flee Town Due To Ethnic Fighting – eFluxMedia

9 - KENYA: IDPs leave city for "ancestral homes"
10 - Sun, sea and miles of empty beach: the paradise that faces disaster - Guardian

Latest news - Diplomatic Initiatives Multiply in Attempt to Resolve Kenya Crisis- Voice of America

By Derek Kilner Nairobi

08 February 2008

A delegation from the East African regional bloc IGAD has concluded a visit to Kenya to discuss the current political crisis. As Derek Kilner reports from Nairobi, recent days have seen a flurry of diplomatic statements and visits addressing the political deadlock and violence that has gripped Kenya since a disputed December election.

[Photo] Kofi Annan, center, mediates talks between government officials, right, and opposition, at Nairobi hotel, 4 Feb 2008

The IGAD delegation, which included ministers from Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia, met with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan who is leading a mediation effort between the government and opposition, and also met with members of the negotiation teams for the two sides.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga's camp objected to a planned meeting of IGAD foreign ministers, saying that President Mwai Kibaki is not the legitimate head of state.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin announced the delegation's support for Annan's team, describing the dangers of holding multiple mediation efforts.

"The IGAD region has been at the recipient end of such proliferation of initiatives complicating already complicated crisis whether it is the Ethiopia - Eritrea border dispute or the crisis Somalia or that of Sudan," said Mr. Mesfin. "So we have pledged to Kofi Annan and his team that the IGAD leaders are fully behind their initiative and their efforts."

Western nations, while also expressing support for Annan's mediation, have raised their involvement in the crisis in recent days. U.S. ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger told Kenyan television station KTN that the United States may deny visas to 10 Kenyan politicians and businessmen suspected of fomenting violence.

"We've sent letters to about 10 individuals, and these are people on both sides, who we believe are involved in those kinds of activities," explained Amb. Ranneberger. "And we have warned them that their visa status could be affected."
U.S. officials say the visa status of additional Kenyans is also under review.

Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya Ross Hynes told KTN that Canada may also impose travel restrictions
"The Canadian law precludes the admissibility into Canada of people who are found to have been responsible for subverting democratic processes and democracy," said Hynes.

British officials say they are considering similar measures.

[Photo] A two-year old Kenyan boy, plays inside a tent in a camp for internally displaced people set up in Nairobi's Mathare slum, 08 Feb 2008

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to urge President George Bush to limit non-humanitarian aid to Kenya if the government does not act to reduce violence. The bulk of American aid to Kenya goes to HIV/AIDS programs which would likely not be affected.

And in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs subcommittee, the top American diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, called for an independent investigation into the post-election violence in Kenya.

The European Commissioner for Humanitarian and Development Aid, Louis Michel, was also in Nairobi on Thursday for meetings with the negotiators, calling for compromise between the two sides.

Meanwhile, U.N. Undersecretary for Human Rights Louise Arbour has dispatched a three-week fact finding mission on human rights abuses.

Breaking news - No peace deal in Kenya, says Annan

53 minutes ago

Former UN chief Kofi Annan, who is mediating talks between Kenya's political rivals, has said that reports of a power-sharing agreement aimed at ending weeks of bloodshed are premature.

"I sincerely hope we will complete our work by early next week," Mr Annan said. But a statement by an opposition MP that a deal had been reached "was jumping the gun", he said.

Earlier, William Rutto, from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement said: "We have finally agreed there is a problem in the country and neither side can proceed on its own."

He added: "We have agreed to form a joint government (with President Mwai Kibaki). Details of that government, its time and how to share it are under discussions."

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has retreated from earlier calls for Mr Kibaki to step down over the disputed presidential election in December.

"We are saying that we are willing to give and take. Initially our stand was that we won the elections, and Mr Kibaki lost the elections, he should resign, and we should be sworn in, but we have said that we are not static on that point," Mr Odinga said.

Speaking at a prayer meeting in Nairobi before the power sharing agreement was revealed, Mr Kibaki said he was "encouraged" by progress in talks and reiterated "my personal support and that of my entire government to this process."

He added that "those who mastermind or engage in acts of violence will pay for their criminal activities."

The violence that erupted in the wake of the election that the opposition accuses Mr Kibaki of stealing has already displaced around 300,000 people and claimed over 1,000 lives.

Around 5,000 people fled a makeshift camp for those displaced by the violence in the western town of Kericho, fearing trouble ahead of the funeral for an opposition MP killed last week. Only about 1,000 people were left in the camp, said Red Cross official Susan Onyango.

[Anybody hear where the 5,000 who fled are headed?]

Copyright © 2008 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

More breaking news - U.S. Intensifies Efforts to End Deadly Conflict in Kenya

Published: February 8, 2008

NAIROBI, KenyaThe American government is playing an increasingly active role in trying to restore peace in Kenya, holding hearings in Washington on Thursday and threatening to prohibit some Kenyan politicians from entering the United States.

A spokesman for the American Embassy in Kenya said Thursday that the embassy had written to 10 politicians and businessmen warning that they and their relatives would be denied entry into the United States if the embassy determined that they had instigated or taken part in violence.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in Kenya since a disputed election in December, and human rights groups have said much of the violence was organized. The American Embassy is warning people in the government and the opposition, and is trying to use the issue of visas to press the leaders to act responsibly and support efforts to reach a political compromise.

“We consider the violence as the most immediate issue to deal with,” said T. J. Dowling, the embassy spokesman. “We wanted to let these people know that we are scrutinizing their acts and we will take action accordingly.”

On Thursday, the Senate held hearings into the underlying causes of the unrest and how it affected other countries in the region. Until December, Kenya was known as an anchor state in East Africa, and it remains a base of operations for extensive aid efforts in some of its more turbulent neighbors, like Somalia, Sudan and Congo. The House of Representatives held similar hearings on Wednesday.

“Kenya is an important partner for the United States,” said Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin and chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on African affairs, in a statement. “But the lack of progress in addressing a number of deep-rooted problems, including political marginalization, land disputes and endemic corruption, appear to have taken a toll. By many accounts, the situation in Kenya could still get much worse.”

The American government has temporarily removed nearly 150 Peace Corps volunteers from Kenya. American officials said that even though Americans had not been the targets of attacks, the continuing instability, which included mob killings and roadblocks across the country, had made it dangerous for the volunteers to remain at their rural posts.

The Kenyan government seems to be swinging into action as well. On Thursday, police officials announced that they were charging an officer with murder in the shooting of an unarmed protester.

Eric Kiraithe, a spokesman for the Kenyan police, said the government had arrested the officer, who was shown on Kenyan television last month shooting a protester at close range, then kicking him in the ribs with combat boots. The protester was unarmed and had been dancing and making faces. He later died. The same police officer has also been charged in the shooting death of another unarmed protester at the same demonstration.

Police officials were quick to note that the officer was from the Kalenjin ethnic group, which tends to support the opposition.

“This appears to be a clear case of criminal misconduct,” Mr. Kiraithe said. “It has nothing to do with tribe.”

Police officers have also arrested more than 20 men this week on suspicion of terrorizing women in Naivasha, where mobs recently killed dozens of people. The men have been accused of molesting and attacking women who wore pants instead of skirts. The police said the suspects were part of a gang that took advantage of the disorder to push its harsh, and often mysterious, code of conduct.

Kenya plunged into turmoil in December after its electoral commission declared that President Mwai Kibaki had narrowly beaten the top opposition leader, Raila Odinga. Observers cited widespread evidence of vote rigging.

The controversy uncorked years of frustration over political, economic and land issues, pitting opposition supporters against members of the president’s ethnic group and groups perceived as supporting the government. Representatives from the government and the opposition have been meeting for the past week with Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, to seek a resolution.

On Thursday, the talks became more tense, with each side claiming to have won the election and neither offering meaningful concessions, said an official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

1 - Annan hopes for Kenya political deal in days

Fri Feb 8, 2008 10:33am EST
By Andrew Cawthorne and C. Bryson Hull

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's feuding political parties have made progress and may reach a breakthrough within days on their major sticking point over a disputed December 27 election, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday.

"I sincerely hope that we will conclude our work on item three, the settlement of the political issues, by early next week," said Annan, who is mediating the dispute.

"We are all agreed a political settlement is necessary with a little patience and a bit of luck," he added, without giving details on the progress made.

Riots and ethnic attacks have killed more than 1,000 people and uprooted 300,000 since the December 27 polls, shattering Kenya's image as a stable business, tourism and transport hub.

Negotiators for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have already agreed on principles to stem violence and help refugees, but had been stuck this week on the crucial dispute over the tallying of the December ballot.

Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says Kibaki supporters rigged the vote, but Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) says the opposition cheated in its heartland and points to the election board's announcement Kibaki had won.

Annan has given both sides until mid-February to resolve that issue and then move on to tackle deeper underlying problems like land and wealth inequality within a year.

He dismissed speculation in local media that the parties had reached an agreement on sharing power in a government of national unity.

"Please don't pay much attention to the
speculations and the rumors," Annan said.

Officials on both sides of the political divide declined to give details of the progress in negotiations, but said talks were moving forward.

Kenya's election unrest has laid bare deep divisions over land, wealth and power that date from colonial rule and have since been stoked by politicians.

Annan said earlier the negotiations could not afford to fail. Mutula Kilonzo, a member of the government's negotiating team, agreed.

"We cannot afford our people using bows and arrows, people being pulled out of buses to be asked 'which language do you speak?' and then being chopped," Kilonzo said.

In addition to hundreds of deaths, the turmoil in Kenya has uprooted 300,000 people, many living in squalid conditions and fearful of returning home.

To assess the situation, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, flew in on Friday for a three-day trip and was due on Saturday to visit Rift Valley towns hit by tribal clashes.

Foreign ministers from the regional IGAD bloc threw their weight behind Annan on Friday, rejecting opposition charges they were visiting Kenya to launch separate talks to undermine him.

(For special coverage from Reuters on Kenya's crisis see: http ://

(Additional reporting by Peter Graff in London)
(Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Mary Gabriel)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

2 - Kenya parties see progress but no final deal

Fri Feb 8, 2008 9:37am EST

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Officials from Kenya's government and opposition said on Friday that talks to resolve their dispute over President Mwai Kibaki's re-election had moved forward but not reached a final deal.

"I don't think it's really going to be a breakthrough, but rather an agreement of principles," a senior government official told Reuters.

An opposition leader, William Ruto, said: "There is positive news, but no final solution yet."

Asked about local media speculation that the two sides had agreed to share power in a government of national unity, Ruto said: "I don't think so. That is not the case."

Sources on both sides said they would not divulge details of the talks' progress, but that mediator and former U.N. boss Kofi Annan would announce more at a news conference.

Having agreed principles to stem violence and help refugees, negotiators for the two sides have been stuck this week on how to overcome their differences on the tallying of votes from the December 27 ballot.

(Reporting by Bryson Hull and Andrew Cawthorne)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

3 - Progress at Kenya's peace talks

Kenya's ruling party and opposition have agreed they need to work towards a political settlement in Nairobi to end post-election bloodshed, officials say.

The two sides are trying to break the deadlock that has left Kenya wracked by unrest since December's elections.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, told reporters the sides were working towards a settlement but said earlier reports of a deal were premature.

Some 1,000 people have died and 300,000 others fled their homes in the clashes.

Mr Annan said: "We are all agreed that a political settlement is needed, that a political settlement is necessary and we are working out the details of such a settlement."

'Commendable progress'
The agreement represents a significant development and follows weeks of intransigence from both sides, says the BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi.

Speaking at a prayer service in Nairobi on Friday, President Mwai Kibaki said he was "encouraged by the commendable progress" in the peace talks.

Mr Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election, which observers said was deeply flawed.
The opposition Orange Democratic Movement, led by Raila Odinga, had said it was cheated of victory and called for a re-run of the poll.

But Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity had insisted the opposition should challenge the disputed result through the courts.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/02/08 15:17:02 GMT© BBC MMVIII

4 - Kenyan parties 'agree coalition principles'

By Tom Chivers and agencies
Last Updated: 3:13pm GMT 08/02/2008

The two main political parties in Kenya have agreed in principle to form a coalition government in an attempt to end weeks of bloody violence, according to reports. [This claim is disputed in Reuters and BBC stories above.]

William Rutto [sp - Ruto], of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement party, said that discussions with President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity government were at an early stage, but that both sides were aware of the need for a solution to the country's problems.

A government spokesman said that talks had led to an "agreement of principles", but said there had been no major breakthrough.

The former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who is in Kenya spearheading the crisis resolution talks, said it was still too early to talk of a power-sharing agreement.

Last weekend Mr Kibaki said that he was "encouraged" by the progress of talks and gave his "personal support and that of my entire government to this process".

The bloodshed began in the aftermath of a
general election that was widely held to be flawed. EU election observers described the poll as falling well below international standards, and called for an inquiry.

Each side accused the other of vote-rigging and election fraud.

Since then it is believed that over 1,000 people have died in violence that has at times been
reminiscent of Rwanda in 1994. President Kibaki has been accused of genocide as the chaos in the country has spiralled out of control.

The two sides have yet to agree upon who would lead the government and the roles the two parties would play in the mooted coalition government.

However, Mr Rutto said: "We have finally agreed there is a problem in the country and neither side can proceed on its own."

Meanwhile Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has warned that Kenya is facing
a breakdown in vital services
in the months to come, with food and health
supplies at particular risk, due to the exodus of over three hundred thousand
people fleeing the recent violence.

Filipe Ribeiro, MSF's emergency aid coordinator for Kenya, told AFP the mass emigration will affect both rural areas and major population centres.

"The fact that people are pouring into slums where the population already is struggling to cope will cause a big problem for food security in urban areas," Mr Ribeiro said. "We will be closely watching the food situation in the months to come."

5 - Annan meets Kibaki and Raila

Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 2/8/2008

Mediator Kofi Annan has gone into a meeting with President Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga where he is to report progress on the talks to resolve Kenya’s political crisis.

The former UN chief is meeting the two leaders at Nairobi’s Harambee House where President Kibaki has a second office.

Mr Annan is due to address a Press conference soon after his meeting with the two leaders.

Representatives from the Government and the Orange Democratic Movement have in the last three days been tackling political issues that are believed to be crucial to resolving the political impasse following the disputed December 27 presidential election.

Mr Annan is chairing a panel of eminent Africans that include former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa and former South African first lady Graca Machel.

The three are leading mediation efforts where President Kibaki is represented by Justice Minister Martha Karua, Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula, Education minister Sam Ongeri and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo. Mr Odinga is represented by former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Aldai MP Sally Kosgei and Ugenya MP James Orengo.

More details soon.

6 - UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Arrives in Nairobi

By VOA News 08 February 2008

United Nations emergency relief coordinator John Holmes has arrived in Kenya for a three-day visit to assess the humanitarian crisis there.

At least 1,000 people have been killed - and 300,000 displaced - in political protests and ethnic violence triggered by the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki on December 27.

Holmes told reporters that a political solution is needed to stop the violence and that negotiators should "keep pressure on all sides" of the dispute.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is mediating the talks between Kenya's rival political leaders in an effort to resolve the crisis. Friday, visiting East African leaders threw their support behind Mr. Annan's efforts after meeting with both sides in the dispute.

The European Union development commissioner, Luis Michel, is participating in the talks. He said Thursday that the political rivals are showing signs of flexibility.

Kenya's opposition claims Mr. Kibaki rigged the vote to secure re-election. The president says he won a fair race.
In other news, Kenyan police say they will charge one of their officers with murder after he was filmed shooting two people to death during post-election violence last month.

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

7 - Kenya policeman denies murdering 2 protesters

Fri Feb 8, 2008 6:14am EST

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan policeman caught on camera apparently shooting two protesters in a western town pleaded not guilty to murder on Friday.

Constable Edward Kirui is accused of killing George William Onyango and Ishmael Chacha during political demonstrations on January 16 in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold.

"I am not guilty," Kirui told Judge Muga Apondi as the two murder charges were read to him at a Nairobi court.
A police investigation identified Kirui from TV footage of a policeman firing his assault rifle at the two youths, who were in a group that taunted and earlier threw rocks at officers.

After he fired, the footage showed the officer walking to the men and kicking one of them as he tried to stand up.
The images drew condemnation from the opposition and human rights groups, which said the incident was an example of police brutality employed to quell the protests.

The prosecution said it would call 30 witnesses.

More than 1,000 people have been killed following ethnic clashes that began as protests against the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki on December 27. The violence worsened into politically tinged ethnic killings.

(For special coverage from Reuters on Kenya's crisis see:
(Reporting by Robert Hummy, Writing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by Robert Woodward)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

8 - Displaced Kenyans Flee Town Due To Ethnic Fighting

By Matthew Williams 15:50, February 8th 2008
1 vote

On Friday Red Cross announced that thousands of Kenyans fled on Thursday from a western town because of ethnic fighting just before the funeral of a slain opposition lawmaker was scheduled to take place this weekend.

President Mwai Kibaki seemed to be encouraged by the progress which was made in talks to end the violence triggered by the presidential election on December 27.

He is accused by opposition leaders from stealing the vote from rival candidate Raila Odinga.

Ever since the election over 1,000 people have been killed and more than 300,000 people were displaced.

Last week an opposition legislator was killed in what police is saying was a crime of passion. On the other hand the opposition describes it as political assassination.

Ever since then there were attacks in the policeman's ethnic group, the Kisii. His funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday.

Families from western town of Kericho gathered in the main street to fill the vans from the
government that were ready to place them into areas where there was a more predominant presence of their ethnic group.

According to Red Cross official Susan Onyango, 5,000 people left the camp built for them and left about 1,000 behind.

Opposition leaders are asking Kibaki to step down, but Odinga showed his flexibility on Thursday regarding this matter after a
meeting with EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel.

He said: "We are saying that we are willing to give and take. Initially our stand was that we won the elections, and Mr. Kibaki lost the elections, he should resign, and we should be sworn in, but we have said that we are not static on that point," the Associated Press informs.

The U.S. threatened on Thursday to bar Kenyan politicians and businessmen who supposedly played a role in the violence after December 27.

The decision was welcomed by Kibaki as well as the opposition. Even so Kenyan human rights groups, foreign observers and diplomats say that is visible that both sides helped at organizing the attacks.

© 2007 - 2008 - eFluxMedia

9 - Kenya's ruling party and opposition agree to form joint government

Associated Press - February 8, 2008 10:03 AM ET

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - An opposition lawmaker says his party and Kenya's ruling party are forming a joint government in an effort to end the violence that has killed at least 1,000 people. [NB - disputed by Reuters and BBC]

The lawmaker says the two sides are still discussing who will lead the government and what role each party will play.

Bloodshed has swept the African nation since the disputed presidential election in December, forcing 300,000 people from their homes.

International and domestic observers have heavily criticized the vote tallying, and the head of the electoral commission has said he isn't sure who won the election.

There is no word from the government or President Mwai Kibaki's (mwy kih-BAH'-keez) Party of National Unity on the agreement. Kofi Annan, who has been mediating peace talks, is planning to make a statement later today.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

9 - KENYA: IDPs leave city for "ancestral homes"

08 Feb 2008 13:16:09 GMT 08 Feb 2008 13:16:09 GMT

Source: IRIN

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

NAIROBI, 8 February 2008 (
IRIN) - Thousands of people displaced from the suburbs on the western edge of the capital, Nairobi, have left for their "ancestral homes" in western Kenya, according to humanitarian workers.

"We had a total of 17,000 people here [Kabete Police Station]- [NB: On Nairobi-Naivasha Road, northwestern side of Nairobi] last week but they have been leaving since Friday [1 February] for their ancestral homes in areas such as Kisumu, Bondo, Busia, Kakamega and Kitale," Regina Munguti, a volunteer with the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, told IRIN on 8 February.

She said the displaced had fled their rental houses in Kikuyu, Kinoo and Ndumbuini areas after they received leaflets threatening them with death. Most of were from Luo and Luhya communities, she added.

Munguti said only eight of the 17 families still left at the camp for displaced people had said they had nowhere to go.

"These are the families who know no other home apart from the houses they vacated; they would not know where to go once they get to western Kenya," she said. "We have referred four children, a girl and three boys, to a children's home after they got separated from their families."

The displacement in Nairobi as well as in the central Kenya region has followed the initial displacement of thousands of people from Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, which were hardest hit by the violence that erupted in late December 2007 following disputed presidential elections.

Protests over the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki led to the violence that has so far claimed at least 1,000 lives and displaced 300,000 more, mostly from Rift Valley Province. The violence has since taken on ethnic dimensions, with the communities who find themselves the minority in such areas at risk of death.

"Life has been difficult here at the police station and I am glad that I am scheduled to leave today," Samson Opoyo, a tailor who had lived in Uthiru Gichagi [western Nairobi] for 10 years, said. "When we left our homes about a week-and-a-half ago, I had my wife and three children with me but I have since managed to have them taken to my original home in Oyugis [Nyanza Province]. I hope to board a bus any time now."

The buses carrying the displaced join other commercial bus convoys to western Kenya that have a security presence.

Munguti said 50 of the IDPs left on 8 February for Bondo and Busia areas of Nyanza and Western provinces and that another 22 were due to leave later in the day for Kitale, a town in Rift Valley Province.

She said the transportation of the IDPs was being carried out by charitable organisations and individual volunteers.
Lifeskills Promoters, an educational NGO working with youths aged between 18 and 24, has provided transport for most of the Kabete IDPs.

"We realised that many youths had been caught up in the crisis in our country and after visiting this camp, transportation was identified as the most urgent need," Isaac Mwaniki, a partnerships officer for Lifeskills Promoters, told IRIN. "Today we are organising the transportation of 22 people to Kitale [western Kenya]."

The Kenya Red Cross Society has been providing food for the IDPs at Kabete Police Station, Munguti said. Women and children were sleeping in a hall nearby while the men spent the nights in the open, she added.

© IRIN. All rights reserved. More humanitarian news and analysis:

10 - Sun, sea and miles of empty beach: the paradise that faces disaster

Violent unrest after election has driven away the tourists - mainstay of the economy

Xan Rice in MombasaFriday February 8, 2008

GuardianThe white sands were deserted. Palm trees swayed in the evening breeze, as a dhow and several pleasure boats bobbed on the warm Indian Ocean waters.

It was a snapshot of paradise, but to the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans involved in tourism - and to their millions of dependants - the empty beaches brought to mind another word: disaster.

The unrest that followed the disputed election of President Mwai Kibaki on December 27 has decimated Kenya's tourist industry, which is the mainstay of the economy and normally accounts for 15% of GDP. More than 100,000 holidaymakers, a fifth of them British, were expected to visit the coastal resorts and safari lodges this month. But following travel warnings and graphic scenes of violence on television, just 9,000 tourists are now expected.

All UK charter flights have been cancelled until the summer, as have most from continental Europe, leaving hotels empty, thousands of waiters, cleaners and bar staff on compulsory leave, and taxi drivers, curio sellers and tourist guides with no income.

"Even after al-Qaida bombed the US embassy here in 1998 it was not as bad as this," said Jake Grieves-Cook, of the Kenya Tourist Board, who said that at least 20,000 hotel workers had already lost their jobs. "This is the worst crisis the industry has ever faced."

Kenya's government has been slow to acknowledge the scale of the problem, leaving tour operators frustrated and angry. Yesterday the information minister, Samuel Poghisio, admitted that the last month had been a "dark period in history", but said the violence was fading and urged tourists not be put off, as the situation was "not what you hear and what you see".

The hard facts - more than 1,000 people dead and more than 300,000 displaced - tell their own story, but it is true that tourist areas have been largely unaffected by the unrest. Most of the clashes between ethnic groups, and between police and protesters, have happened in the west, off the safari circuit, or in low-income areas of Nairobi.

The exceptions were the lakeside towns of Naivasha and Nakuru, which erupted into violence last week, but local travel agents say it is now safe to travel there. All are desperate to stress that throughout the crisis not a single foreign holidaymaker has been harmed.

The few intrepid tourists on safari trips in recent weeks have sometimes had an entire resort to themselves. In the Masai Mara and Samburu game reserves, as well as the lush foothills around Mount Kenya, some lodges have shut for the season rather than open for only one or two guests.

But it is along the picturesque coastal region, which generates around two-thirds of all tourist revenue, that the effects are most keenly felt. Nearly all the hotels, from all-inclusive package destinations to the plush five-star resorts, were overbooked for January and February. But as soon Kibaki was controversially sworn in on December 30, sparking the violence, the cancellations started to pour in. Flights from Europe arrived empty and departed full.

Statistics compiled at a recent crisis meeting of coastal hoteliers show just how dire the situation is. Of the 28 resorts surveyed, occupancy rates ranged from zero to 36%. Only one of the hotels had yet to lay off staff.

A few miles north of Mombasa the Sarova Whitesands resort, the second largest hotel in East Africa, was eerily quiet. Only 60 of the 338 rooms were occupied. All the casual and contract staff have been sent home, and half the employees are on compulsory leave. A sign leading to one section of the five-star hotel saying "You are now entering a quiet zone" was redundant: the entire wing was vacant.

A £2.5m refurbishment programme has been put on hold, said Mohammed Hersi, the general manager, as he read yet another email from a British client cancelling a holiday. "We are trying to cut costs everywhere just to stay afloat."
Hersi said that if the effort by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan to broker a deal between the government and opposition failed, the entire tourism industry, which employs 250,000 workers directly, and is responsible for an equal number of indirect jobs, "would face a tragedy" that would take years to get over.

For some tourists the knowledge that ordinary Kenyans rather than the elite political class would suffer if they cancelled their trip persuaded them to go ahead. At the Turtle Bay Beach Club in Watamu, on the north coast, which attracts mainly British tourists, Gren and Beryl Davison, and Gordon and Joan Usher, all from Northumberland, were relaxing on the beach.

"Some of our family members weren't happy about us coming," said Joan Usher, who has been to Watamu every year since 1999. "But after we thought of the local staff and what would happen to them if nobody came on holiday, we decided to stick to our plans. We are having a great time."

With Britain and the US amending their travel advice, now warning citizens to avoid only certain areas rather than the entire country, some hoteliers are hoping they can salvage something from the season. At the £100-a-night Leopard Beach resort in Diani, south of Mombasa, where millions of pounds have been spent in the last year constructing a spa, manager Francis Murabe said: "Tell people in Britain that now is the time for the best holiday. It's so quiet that we are upgrading all our guests into the best rooms. Newlyweds won't just get the honeymoon suite, they'll get the master suite."

In figures

· Tourism is Kenya's biggest foreign exchange earner, with revenue topping £500m last year. The industry has grown at 10% to 20% a year for the last four years
· More than a million tourists visited in 2007, the highest figure ever. Some 203,000 were British
· Between January and March 315,000 tourists were expected. The Kenya Tourist Board says the likely figure is now 27,000, resulting in lost revenue of about £126m
· There are 250,000 people working in tourism, with a further 250,000 indirectly employed. Each employee typically supports seven to 12 people
· For every eight tourists who visit, one more job is created.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008,,2254382,00.html

Google News Headlines - Fri 2/08/2008

Google News Alert for: Kenya

Kenya Govt 'arming militias to spread violence'
ABC Online - Australia
By Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan The Opposition in Kenya has accused the Government of arming militias to spread violence in the country. ...
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Kenya: Country Under Pressure to Reach Agreement - Washington,USA
In Washington DC, members of a US Congressional Sub-Committee on Africa said Kenya was too important in the region and the world to be allowed to go the way ...
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Kenya: Kibaki Accepts Inquiry Into Poll Fraud - Washington,USA...
Minister's Office, said on behalf of his Foreign Affairs counterpart Sam Kuteesa that Uganda would "stand by the people of Kenya in their hour of need". ...
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US Official Vows Washington to Remain Engaged in Kenya
Voice of America - USA
By Deborah Tate A key US official says the United States will remain engaged in finding a solution to the political crisis in Kenya, following disputed ...
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Creating a Path To Peace in Kenya
Washington Post - United States
By Wangari Maathai
It's make-or-break time for Kenya. After weeks of standoff, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, who both claim to have won the Dec. ...
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Kenya: The Immediate and Underlying Causes and Consequences of ... - Washington,USA
“By now, we have all seen the gruesome photos and heard the tragic stories of the brutal violence that has erupted throughout Kenya. Hopes were high in the ...
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This as-it-happens Google Alert is brought to you by Google.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

More Headlines – Late 2/0702008

Kenya talks focus on easing violence

The country's two political rivals agreed to help ease distribution of humanitarian aid, but not to a power-sharing government.

By Scott Baldauf – Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

and Rob Crilly – Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor


Since his arrival in Kenya on Jan. 22, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has deftly given the impression of steady success in mediating between Kenya's two main rivals, President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

But in talks this week, President Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) apparently rejected a transitional government that would share power with Mr. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), according to an ODM source with knowledge of the ongoing discussions.

Few details of the talks have emerged. The emphasis still appears to be on preventing the violence and breaking the leaders away from their intransigence, rather than the makeup of any kind of power-sharing government. Kibaki still claims he won the disputed Dec. 27 vote, while Odinga maintains that Kibaki stole the election at the last minute.

ODM negotiators are insisting that the disputed elections be re-run and a transitional government be set up in the meantime. Kibaki's team says that is a nonstarter. The only agreement so far is that the discredited Electoral Commission of Kenya be disbanded.

Last Friday, however, the two sides also agreed to end the violence and work together to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. But the agreement coincided with fresh clashes in the western Rift Valley following the murder of an opposition parliamentarian.

"Since then, in the past three or four days, things have calmed down," says Abbas Gullet, executive director of the Kenya Red Cross. "Whether that's down to the Annan talks or other factors it's difficult to say. What I can say is that there's huge, huge hope among Kenyan people that things are moving in the right direction and settling down."

But the western Rift Valley has seen a series of flare-ups since President Kibaki was sworn in for a controversial second term, and the toll continues to tick upwards; more than 1,000 have died and more than 300,000 were forced from their homes.

"Ever since Kofi Annan emerged with those two men for the handshake, everyone thought that a solution was possible," says Wafula Okumu, a Kenya expert at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, or Tshwane, as the South African capital city now calls itself. "Then I started hearing that because of the higher expectations, if these talks fail, the consequences will be more dire than" what we've seen before.

As if to focus the minds of the two rivals, the UN Security Council Wednesday condemned the "ethnically motivated attacks" in Kenya, and also expressed "strong concern at the continuing dire humanitarian situation in Kenya and [called] for the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons."

Applying further pressure, United States Ambassador Michael Rannenberger announced travel bans against 10 members of parliament, reportedly from both the president's party and the opposition, for their participation "in the instigation of violence, violation of human rights and breaking of democratic practices." The travel bans apply against the politicians as well as their families, including children attending school in the US.

The challenges facing Kenya's leaders have deep and personal roots. Rulers who awarded land to their cronies and favored their ethnic kin would be reluctant to give up that tangible lever of power, unless forced. Rulers would be even more loath to give up the absolute powers – of apportioning budgets, choosing members of the judiciary, and clamping down on opposition and press freedoms at will – that Kenya's liberation-era Constitution gives its office of presidency.

Yet analysts, both in Kenya and across Africa, say that Kenya's only hope for peace is if it addresses those very issues now.

"Kenya sits as an indication of a broader problem, the African problem of how to organize the political state," says Francis Kornegay, a senior analyst at the Center for Policy Studies in Johannesburg. With men like Kibaki and Odinga and their respective entourages, "We are dealing with a political class that has come from years of dictatorship. These habits die hard."

In a Kenyan context, political leaders typically have drawn their support primarily from members of their own tribes. Odinga's biggest supporters come from the Luo tribe who live in the western part of the country, and he has forged alliances with a "Pentagon" of opposition leaders representing other ethnic groups. Mwai Kibaki's supporters come from the Kikuyus of central Kenya.

This means that any political dispute can quickly transform into ethnic violence. Immediately following the announcement on Dec. 29 that Kibaki had won the polls, violence broke out against Kikuyus in areas where the opposition ODM vote was strongest. In recent days, members of Odinga's Luo party have been chased from their homes in villages in Central Province, the traditional Kikuyu homeland.

François Grignon, Africa program director of the International Crisis Group think tank, says the talks still have a long way to go if they are to help ordinary Kenyans. "Progress has been made because they are meeting, they are talking to one another, they are making commitments to the reconciliation process," he says. "But as far as the political issues go, they are still a long way apart."

from the February 08, 2008 edition -

Country Under Pressure to Reach Agreement

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
NEWS8 February 2008 Posted to the web 7 February 2008 Nairobi

Strike a deal to end crippling crisis or else we intervene - that was the unambiguous message that the international community was sending to the PNU and ODM protagonists on Thursday.

The pressure came from the United States, the United Nations Security Council and the European Union, even as ODM leader Raila Odinga indicated that his side was willing to cede ground in mediation efforts spearheaded by former UN chief Kofi Annan for the sake of the country.

In Washington DC, members of a US Congressional Sub-Committee on Africa said Kenya was too important in the region and the world to be allowed to go the way of Rwanda and Somalia.

At the Wednesday meeting, the sub-committee warned that time was running out for "a Kenyan" solution to the political crisis.

"If the warring parties are not ready to compromise to stop the country from sliding into tribal anarchy, then the international community should move in to help," the team, under the chairmanship of Mr Donald Payne, said without specifying what kind of intervention would be recommended.

And back in New York, the United Nations Security Council urged Kenya's leaders to implement the February 1 agreement - which includes taking action to dismantle armed gangs, improve the humanitarian situation and restore human rights - without delay.

In the statement issued on Thursday, the Council reaffirmed its support for the Annan-led team of Eminent African

Personalities in their efforts to find a solution to the problem that emerged following the disputed elections, and stem the violence.

It requested its Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, to report on how the UN could further support the mediation efforts in Kenya and mitigate the impact of the crisis on the wider sub-region.

And the European Union was reading from the same script, warning that it would deal firmly with anybody who attempts to derail the mediation talks.

EU Commissioner for Development Louis Michel said any such person would face serious consequences, which he, however, did not specify.

"We will leave no room for failure," he said in Nairobi last night, adding that there must be a price to be paid by both parties if an agreement is to be reached.

"Both sides must be prepared to make concessions as they tackle the root cause of the problem," he said.

In Nairobi, the Government buckled to pressure and cancelled an East African Heads of State Summit that was scheduled to take place in Nairobi today, and which ODM had vehemently opposed as a hindrance to the Annan effort.

The East African Community (EAC) headquartered in Arusha said the parley had been postponed indefinitely.

Raila said his party was ready to yield some ground to arrest the situation in the country.

"Initially, our stand was that we won the elections and Kibaki did not, hence he should resign and we should be sworn in. But we have said we are not static on that point. We are willing to yield some ground so that an acceptable solution can be found between us and the other side," said Raila.

Back at the mediation table at the Nairobi Serena Hotel, talks reached a critical stage where the Government and ODM were expected to agree on tough choices.

Annan asked the parties to relax their positions that had the potential of stalling the talks, and pleaded with the two sides to pursue the compromise path.

"Talks on the political issues are crucial, at times divisive, but proceeding in good spirit, slowly," Annan said.

For the second day running, the teams discussed arguments for and against a re-run of the disputed presidential elections in a tense mood.

The Government team insists ODM should take their complaint to court in compliance with the Constitution and laws that govern elections.

The Government has not been keen on a fresh presidential election and has opposed the demand that Kibaki resigns.
There was a moment of anxiety when the Government negotiators retreated to their office for consultation within Serena Hotel, leaving the ODM side in the negotiation room.

They later re-emerged and clarified that they had not walked out of the talks.

"We were busy consulting. The matters are weighty and critical. We are talking to our counterparts and very good progress is being made," said Mbooni MP Mr Mutula Kilonzo, one of the negotiators on the Government side.

In Washington DC, Congressional Sub-Committee chairman Payne said that though the US felt that what was happening in Kenya could be dealt with internally, it appeared there was no goodwill on both sides.

Present to give updates on the situation were the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Mr Maina Kiai, and former nominated MP Ms Njoki Ndung'u.

And in New York, the Permanent Representative of Panama, Mr Ricardo Alberto Arias, who holds the rotating Council Presidency of the United Nations Security Council for February, welcomed the announcement of progress in negotiations but expressed deep concern that "civilians continued to be killed, abused and displaced.

In Nairobi, EU's Michel separately met President Kibaki, Raila, House Speaker Mr Kenneth Marende and the business community.

Michel impressed upon President Kibaki on the need to move expeditiously to resolve the impasse and end the suffering of Kenyans in parts of the country.

Michel urged both sides of the political divide to be flexible, saying the EU expected that a consensus would be reached on all issues, including addressing the underlying causes of the post-election violence.

Michel said the international community fully backed Annan's recommendations for short term, mid term and long-term solutions.

Michel ruled out the imposition of economic sanctions at this stage.

"It is too early to impose sanctions and this would affect poor people," he said.

He was accompanied by, among others, Ambassadors Mr Walter Lindner, (Germany) Ms Elisabeth Barbier (France) and United Kingdom High Commissioner, Mr Adam Wood.

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

UN calls for Kenya 'compromise'

The UN Security Council has called on Kenya's political leaders to solve the crisis there through "dialogue, negotiation and compromise".

In its first official response to the unrest sparked by December's disputed election, the council expressed concern at the "dire humanitarian situation".

Nearly 1,000 Kenyans have been killed in the violence and 300,000 displaced.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the presidential election.

Foreign ministers from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia have arrived in Nairobi for a meeting of the East African regional group, Igad, on Thursday to discuss the crisis.

Fact-finding mission
The Security Council statement gave strong backing to efforts by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to find a solution.

Recalling the need to avoid impunity, the council calls for those responsible for violence to be brought to justice UN Security Council

"The council emphasises that the only solution to the crisis lies through dialogue, negotiation and compromise and strongly urges Kenya's political leaders to foster reconciliation," it said.

The council called on Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki to meet "their responsibility to engage fully in finding a sustainable political solution and taking action to immediately end violence".

Gangs must be disarmed, human rights restored and the humanitarian situation improved, it said.

"Recalling the need to avoid impunity, the council calls for those responsible for violence to be brought to justice," the statement added.

A UN fact-finding mission arrived in Kenya on Wednesday to collate information on suspected human rights abuses.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said: "Truth and accountability are of critical importance in putting an end to the violence and preventing future human rights violations."

The meeting of the Igad group has sparked anger among Kenya's opposition, which has warned it will hold mass rallies if it goes ahead.

Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) said it was not consulted about the gathering, which could undermine talks being chaired by Mr Annan.

ODM Secretary General Anyang Nyong'o said: "If the meeting goes ahead as planned we shall mobilise our supporters for a peaceful demonstration against President Kibaki's government."

But Mr Annan sought to ally the ODM's fears, saying Igad had nothing to do with his negotiations.

"All parties must avoid provocative statements touching on the matters in discussion," he said.

A framework for the negotiations was agreed last Friday, including what caused the political crisis and issues relating to land distribution and historical injustices.

Meanwhile, heads of the country's tourism industry have gathered in Nairobi to devise a strategy to minimise the damage to their businesses.

Revenue has been cut by an estimated $80m (£40m).

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/02/07 04:27:05 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Rift over results widens as UN warns leaders

Story by NATION Reporter and Reuters

Publication Date: 2/8/2008

The UN Security Council Thursday told Kenyan leaders to immediately end the post-election violence as mediation talks in Nairobi turned stormy.

The council asked the leaders to end what it called “ethnically motivated attacks”, which have left over 1,000 people dead.

As the UN made the plea in New York, ODM and PNU parties to the talks refused to cede ground over how to resolve the disputed Presidential elections. In a second non-binding statement issued since the violence began over a month ago, the 15-nation council ordered Kenya to “immediately end violence, including ethnically motivated attacks, dismantle armed gangs, improve the humanitarian situation and restore human rights.”

At the talks mediated by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, the Government and ODM stuck to their positions over the disputed polls.

Mediation team
This prompted Mr Annan, whose mediation team includes former South African First Lady Graca Machel and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, to ask both sides to compromise for a fast resolution.

The Security Council is one of the key UN decision-making bodies, grouping five permanent members — USA, France, Russia, China and United Kingdom — and 10 rotational posts distributed to every continent.

In its first official response to the unrest sparked by December’s disputed election, the council expressed concern at the “dire humanitarian situation”.

The council spoke even as the international community warned of stern measures against those who derail the Annan talks. European Union commissioner for development Louis Michel said the action would target both ODM and PNU leaders.

Addressing journalists after talks with President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and the Annan mediation team, Mr Michel said: “Those who will push Annan to fail will pay for the consequence.”

“There’s no room for parties who would not give Annan a chance to succeed,” Mr Michel said and expressed optimism that the mediation will succeed.

Nearly 350,000 Kenyans have been displaced in the five-week orgy of violence.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused President Kibaki of rigging the presidential election. But Thursday he said ODM was no longer demanding to be given their alleged presidential victory.

“We won the elections, President Kibaki lost and therefore we wanted to be sworn in. That is not what we are saying now and have moved from that position to accept open-ended talks,” Mr Odinga added.

The UN statement gave strong backing to efforts by the Annan team to find a solution. “The council emphasises that the only solution to the crisis lies through dialogue, negotiation and compromise and strongly urges Kenya’s political leaders to foster reconciliation,” it said.

It asked President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to meet “their responsibility to engage fully in finding a sustainable political solution and taking action to immediately end violence”.

Gangs must be disarmed, human rights restored and the humanitarian situation improved, it said.

“Recalling the need to avoid impunity, the council calls for those responsible for violence to be brought to justice,” the statement added.

A UN fact-finding mission arrived in Kenya on Wednesday to collate information on suspected human rights abuses.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louis Arbour, said: “Truth and accountability are of critical importance in putting an end to the violence and preventing future human rights violations.”

The council statement, much more strongly worded than last week’s, also expressed “strong concern at the continuing dire humanitarian situation in Kenya and (called) for the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons.”

An earlier version of the statement drafted by France and Britain said the council “regrets the abuses in the presidential election noted by international and domestic observers.” But this was removed due to Russian objections, diplomats said.

The statement did not say what steps the council might take if the violence continues.

The Government and ODM were told to relax their tough positions for speedy conclusion and success of ongoing talks to end political turmoil in the country.

Mr Annan, who is heading the talks, read the notice after the talks seemed to be headed nowhere with the two warring sides sticking to their positions.

Sources at Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation, which is going on at Nairobi’s Serena Hotel, said the Government and ODM representatives had spent the better part of Thursday defending and justifying their positions.

The talks turned stormy with the Government and ODM sides declining to cede any grounds.

The heated exchanges reflecting deep divisions between the two sides threw into disarray the possibility of the committee meeting its target on time.

There were different versions as to the reason why the ODM delegation of Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, James Orengo and Sally Kosgei left the meeting at 4.45pm while the Government side remained behind for almost 30 minutes.

When they came out of the meeting room, the Government side made up of Cabinet ministers Martha Karua, Sam Ongeri, Moses Wetang’ula and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo said that they were meeting in their office at the Serena after the adjournment of the afternoon session.

Said Mr Kilonzo: “We all have our offices here. The Government has its own and ODM have their own and we have been holding our own small meeting there. Do no listen to propaganda that this or that group has walked out. I have yet to meet a team from ODM that would make Mutula Kilonzo want to walk out.”

Ms Karua the talks were progressing well and assured the public that a solution to the political crisis was on the way.
But sources within ODM said they walked out after the Government side refused to cede any ground in their terms for a political solution. They said there was no need to go on with the afternoon session when it was clear their rivals were using legal reasons to block any possibility of reaching an agreement.

A statement that was issued later in the evening by chairman of the mediation team Mr Kofi Annan pointed to the differences that emerged in the meeting and the slow pace at which the talks were moving. It said: “The topic is a crucial one, and proved divisive at times, but the talks proceeded in a good spirit, moving more slowly than in previous sessions but moving steadily ahead.”

The former UN secretary-general’s statement was referring to the third item on his agenda of a political solution to the crisis, namely, how to overcome the disputed Presidential elections.

The two sides had started debating the issues that they raised in their presentations to the mediation team. The Government proposed a raft of Constitutional, legal and institutional reforms that would result in the establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission as an end to the crisis.

On their part, ODM put on the table a re-run of the Presidential elections and formation of a transitional government made up of members of the two sides to prepare for fresh elections in six months.

During that period, they proposed, Constitutional, legal and electoral law reforms should be carried out to pave way for fair and free polls.

Thursday’s session became stormy when ODM negotiators declared that President Kibaki was in office illegally because he lost the elections to their candidate, Mr Odinga. The only way out, they argued, was for Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga to be exposed to a new round of elections to give legitimacy to the seat of power.

However, the Government side argued that President Kibaki’s tenure in the office could only be proved illegitimate through re-tallying or recounting of the Presidential votes that were cast in the December 27 elections. This, they said, would enable the public to know the truth and bring to an end the claim that Mr Odinga won the elections.

The proposal was bitterly opposed by the ODM side, which who argued that the results had been greatly tampered with, original Form 16As had been shredded and replaced with a new set and that the current members of the Electoral Commission could not be trusted to be fair.

They declared that they were not ready to go to the courts to find a solution to the political crisis, and rooted for a political settlement.

The only two options, they said, were a re-run of the Presidential elections, which would yield a clear winner and convince protesting Kenyans to stop violence. The quickest way to end violence was to address the irregularities that occurred during vote-counting.

The second option was a transitional government of PNU and ODM members according to their strength in Parliament, with the two parties equally sharing executive authority.

But the PNU side opposed both options stating they were not provided for in the Constitution that had to be adhered to even in political crisis.

They claimed ODM refused to file a petition as required by the Constitution and that the transitional government they were proposing was not in the Constitution.

It was at this moment, sources said, that Mr Annan stepped in and urged the negotiators to consider the interest of the country.

He was understood to have said that the international community and the public were looking up to the committee to find a solution to the political crisis and end human suffering.

He was reported to have said that the two sides have to cede some of their demands in order to reach an agreement.
Left for a meeting

The ODM negotiators then left for a meeting with their leader, Mr Odinga, at Pentagon House while the Government side continued meeting room at their Serena Hotel office.

The talks resume Thursday.

Mr Annan, who is chairing the talks started work on January 29 and gave 15 days for addressing short-term issues that could return to peace and stability to the country.

On Thursday, the Government side complained about the travel bans and warned the Kibaki administration will not be intimidated.

Mr Wetang’ula, the Foreign Affairs minister, vowed to defend all people who would be affected by the travel bans stating that the ambassadors were acting out of order.

“As a government, we have a duty to defend the right of every citizen and any of my colleagues who has received a letter,” he said.

Ms Karua urged UK and Canada to act within the Paris principles on diplomatic relations. “We are telling those countries that whereas you reserve the right to deny us visas, you cannot lord it over us,” she said.

Mr Kilonzo said that the travel bans were intimidating members of the committee. He claimed ODM was working with some foreign countries to frustrate government activities through the ban.

On Wednesday, the US said 10 MPs and businessmen faced imminent travel ban to the country for being behind the violence that has left more than 1000 people dead and 300,000 displaced. The ban issue is said to have taken centre stage at the talks.

Meanwhile, President Kibaki has directed the International Conference on Great Lakes region to form a committee of ministers to assist in ending Kenya’s political crisis.

The President, who chairs the 11-member country body made the directive when he met its executive secretary Liberata Mulamula.

Ms Mulamula, who was accompanied by Mr Wetang’ula, said at the Serena that the ministers are to meet ODM and PNU leaders and be part of the Annan-led talks. She said she also had met ODM leaders who rejected parallel mediation talks.

Reported by Lucas Barasa, Bernard Namunane, BBC online and Reuters

Raila: ODM flexible at talks

Story by NATION Team Publication Date: 2/8/2008

ODM leader Raila Odinga said Thursday that his party was willing to climb down on its demand that President Kibaki resigns.

Mr Odinga said after meeting EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid Louis Michel, that his party would give as much as it took in the quest for a lasting solution.

“Initially, our stand was that we won the election and that President Kibaki should resign and we be sworn in. We’re not static and have accepted to seek a solution to our problem,” he added.

Mr Odinga also said it was important to deal “with issues that had been swept under the carpet for too long”, in reference to the historical land problems that might have played a role in the violence.

The EU was optimistic that the mediation brokered by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan would bring peace and stability. Mr Michel said: “Both parties have resolved to work together to find a peaceful resolution. There are signs of flexibility, which is good for the talks.

“There is a price to pay for any agreement, and both parties must ensure they come up with a solution for the sake of Kenyans,” said Mr Michel.

And he said there was need to overhaul the Electoral Commission of Kenya to reflect the principles of democracy.

Heavy criticism
The ECK has come under heavy criticism for mishandling the General Election, with some Kenyans calling for its disbandment. However, its chairman Samuel Kivuitu has insisted that he will not resign.

On Thursday, Mr Michel told journalists that the Constitution had also to be reviewed to be in line with the changing needs and aspirations of Kenyans.

“The Constitution needs to be changed to correct some of the causes of the problems, and to help solve the existing misunderstanding,” he added.

The post-election violence has killed nearly 1,000 people and left more than 350,000 homeless after Mr Kivuitu declared President Kibaki the victor.

And Thursday, foreign ministers from Igad countries and Kenya’s lobby groups backed the ongoing mediation talks.

The ministers, whose visit had been subject of a threatened mass protest by ODM clarified that they were in the country for “a consultative meeting” and not to interfere with the mediation talks.

Foreign minister Moses Wetang’ula, who is hosting his colleagues from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti, said Igad policy recognised states and not who the Head of State is.

Asked whether the Igad team had raised the issue of the disputed presidential elections at the meeting, Mr Wetang’ula said: “Igad’s position is to recognise countries and not presidents.” President Kibaki, whose re-election during the December 27 General Election has been disputed by the ODM leader, is the chairman of Igad.

Meanwhile, a meeting by East Africa Community Heads of State that was to take place Friday in Nairobi has been postponed. A one sentence statement from the EAC secretariat in Arusha announcing the postponement did not give any reasons.

Reports by Jeff Otieno, Odhiambo Orlale and Julius Bosire

Kibaki Accepts Inquiry Into Poll Fraud

The Monitor (Kampala)
NEWS8 February 2008 Posted to the web 7 February 2008

By Tabu Butagira, Mercy Nalugo & Agnes NandutuKampala

THE Kenyan government has invited international bodies to independently investigate the ongoing bloodletting in the country and ensure the perpetrators are prosecuted for "crimes against humanity".

In a pre-recorded interview that was due to be aired on 93.3 KFM Hot Seat programme last evening, Dr Alfred Mutua, the Spokesman of the Kenyan government, accused leaders of the Opposition Orange Democratic Movement of "planning, financing and executing systematic post-election ethnic cleansing", mainly in the Rift Valley area.

Mr Mutua cited the January 24 Human Rights Watch report which indicated that ODM officials planned several community attacks against other tribes, especially local Kikuyu populations, in and around Eldoret town.

"We would like an international inquiry so that any atrocities committed are accounted for...the blood of the innocent citizens that has been spilled cannot be in vain and the perpetrators need to be taken to the International Criminal Court," he said.

Mr Mutua repeatedly accused the Raila Odinga-led ODM party officials of fomenting trouble in the country that has been considered in its post-independence era as relatively more peaceful and prosperous than its fragile neighbours like Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo.

"Democracy is about disagreeing to agree but not using violence. This (post-election tribal aggression) was clearly premeditated by groups of ODM officials to unleash ethnic violence and get to power through the backdoor," Mr Mutua charged.

He added: "Nothing justifies violence of burning shops, raping women and killing people or blocking (trans-boundary) highways".

He said the Kenyan government had obtained incriminating evidence against top ODM officials he did not name, many of who allegedly mobilised and sent out killer youth squads with colour paints to delineate homesteads owned by Kikuyu and Kisii ethnic groups before returning to butcher them at night.

As Mr Mutua struggled to demonise ODM leaders and spruce up the sullied image of President Mwai Kibaki's government, Ugandan Opposition lawmakers yesterday demanded an express withdrawal of President Yoweri Museveni's hasty congratulatory message to President Kibaki.

But Mr Adolf Mwesige, the minister of general duties in the Prime Minister's Office, said on behalf of his Foreign Affairs counterpart Sam Kuteesa that Uganda would "stand by the people of Kenya in their hour of need".

As chair of the East African Community, Mr Museveni was scheduled to fly to Nairobi this morning for the extra-ordinary summit of EAC member states that is widely expected to discuss the bloody meltdown in Kenya besides other regional concerns.

Alongside the ongoing mediation efforts of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, the meeting of the regional leaders is expected to generate concrete proposals on how to end the mayhem in Kenya that is already hurting economies of inland neighbours.

In a statement to Parliament yesterday, minister Mwesige reiterated government's denial that no Ugandan troops had been deployed to prop up Mr Kibaki's messy victory as alleged by ODM leaders early last month.

"All such speculations are absolute falsehoods (and) let the press and political leaders desist from making inflammatory and reckless statements likely to worsen the situation in Kenya, negatively affect our (bilateral) relations and put our nationals (in Kenya) in harm's way," Mr Mwesige said.

There have been media reports in the past fortnight that wayward Kenyan demonstrators from the Indian Ocean coast to Malaba on the country's western flank were targeting Ugandans and their vehicles for destruction in the violence that has so far claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced another 304, 000 Kenyans.

Minister Mwesige, however, said Uganda enjoys "excellent bilateral and regional relations" with the government and peoples of Kenya and will do all it can to ensure peace in the region.

Copyright © 2008 The Monitor. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

UN Reports Improved Security, Steps Up Aid to Displaced

UN News Service (New York)
NEWS7 February 2008 Posted to the web 7 February 2008

The United Nations said today that security has improved slightly in Kenya, where the unrest sparked by December's disputed elections has uprooted over 300,000 people from their homes and agencies are increasing efforts to aid those affected.

At the same time, the UN Country Team reported sporadic violence in Kericho, Eldoret, Kisumu and the capital, Nairobi, and called the humanitarian situation "precarious."

According to the Kenya Red Cross Society, there are now some 325,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that UN teams will step up the delivery of aid to more than 39,000 IDPs spread out in 15 camps in the North Rift Valley. Medicine, food and water are the most pressing needs for the IDPs.

On Tuesday, the World Food Programme (WFP) handed out some 80 tons of food at 11 IDP camps. Around 2,000 displaced children under the age of 5 also received supplementary food items to prevent malnutrition. The agency also noted that enrolment in UN-assisted schools in Nairobi slums is some 28 per cent lower than before the outbreak of violence.

Meanwhile, the Government of Uganda now estimates there are 12,000 Kenyan refugees on its soil, based on a joint tally with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

On the political front, the mediation team led by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recently reported progress in negotiations between the Government and the opposition.

While welcoming that development, the Security Council yesterday expressed its strong concern at the continuing dire humanitarian situation in the country. In a presidential statement, the 15-member body also requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report on how the UN can further support the mediation efforts in Kenya, as well as on the impact of the crisis on the wider sub-region and UN operations in that area.

Mr. Ban has dispatched UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes to Kenya, and he is scheduled to arrive in Nairobi tomorrow for a three-day mission to assess the humanitarian situation in the country.

Copyright © 2008 UN News Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media ( 3:24 p.m. EST, Thu February 7, 2008

U.S. may bar Kenyans who aided post-election bloodshed

Story Highlights
Targeted are politicians, businessmen who played role in weeks of violence
At least 1,000 killed since December 27 election protests started
Some of 10 people who may be barred are suspected of financing violence
Envoy: "People are paying 4,000 shillings [$60 U.S.] to burn down a house."

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Washington is threatening to bar Kenyan politicians and businessmen alleged to have played a role in weeks of post-election bloodshed from visiting the United States, a move that has "hit a nerve," the U.S. ambassador said Thursday.

Among the 10 people from either side of Kenya's political divide being targeted are those suspected of financing the violence.

"There is money changing hands," Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said in an interview with foreign journalists.
"People are paying 4,000 shillings [$60 U.S.] to burn down a house."

Long considered one of Africa's success stories, Kenya has been devastated by strife since a December 27 election that most observers say was rigged. The winner, President Mwai Kibaki, is accused of stealing the election.

Ranneberger said the American move was made mainly to end the strife, but could help "achieve a political solution."
After elections, protests quickly degenerated into clashes that killed more than 1,000 people.

Much of the violence has pitted other ethnic groups against Kibaki's Kikuyu people, long resented for their dominance of business and politics. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

All set for civic leadership battle

Story by NATION Reporter

Publication Date: 2/8/2008

The next electoral battle between ODM and PNU moves to the councils as local authorities prepare to elect mayors and chairmen on February 25.

Local Government minister Uhuru Kenyatta named the date Thursday, setting the stage for a bruising contest for control of the country’s next tier of the administrative structure.

Campaigning that will culminate in wearing of mayoral chains is expected to intensify in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Eldoret, where councillors who captured seats on Mr Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement and President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity party tickets are positioning themselves to vote in one of their own.

ODM won the highest number of seats for any single political party with 998 out of the 2,402 councillors elected in the 175 civic authorities.

PNU won 322 and the rest were shared by other parties, most of them PNU affiliates. But 15 wards remain vacant after elections were cancelled due to either deaths or missing names of candidates.

Individual councils
Political parties will nominate 759 councillors, proportional to their strength in individual councils, bringing the total number to 3,161.

ODM is fronting the nomination of Adopt-A-Light proprietor, Ms Esther Passaris, and pushing for her election as the mayor. But elected councillors are opposed to the plan and want one of their own to become mayor. In Mombasa, ODM has 30 of the 32 councillors, PNU has none with the two other seats taken by Kadu Asili councillors.

In Kisumu, Mr Odinga’s younger brother Omondi Odinga is competing with insurance broker Robert Oruko Otuge.

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Kenya Govt 'arming militias to spread violence'
By Africa correspondent
Andrew Geoghegan
Posted 2 hours 49 minutes ago Updated 2 hours 50 minutes ago
The Opposition in Kenya has accused the Government of arming militias to spread violence in the country.
The claim comes amid crisis talks aimed at ending weeks of bloodshed. Ethnic-related violence continues to claim lives in Kenya.
This week, up to 50 people have been killed in the north-west of the country as armed gangs roam the streets.
The Opposition Orange Democratic Movement claims the Government has been raiding official armouries to equip militias, who are killing innocent Kenyans.
The Government says the accusation is preposterous and in turn accuses the opposition of undermining crisis talks.
Those talks, led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, have resumed in Nairobi, but negotiators from both the Government and the Opposition are struggling to find common ground.

Kenyan crisis talks 'divisive': mediators
1 day ago

NAIROBI (AFP) — Kenya's political rivals spoke of slow progress on Thursday in negotiations on ending weeks of bloodshed, saying talks had been divisive at times but were moving steadily ahead.

Negotiators for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga held another full day of talks led by former UN chief Kofi Annan as violence claimed 15 more lives in western Kenya.

Over the past three days, they have been tackling the core issue of overcoming the political crisis, a topic which "proved divisive at times", said a joint statement from the mediation team.

"But the talks proceeded in good spirit, moving more slowly than in previous sessions, but moving steadily ahead."

"In a relatively short period, the dialogue and reconciliation team has made considerable progress," it said.

Annan has set a deadline of seven to 15 days to resolve the crisis sparked by the December 27 vote, which the opposition claims was rigged. International observers have also cited serious flaws during vote-counting.

Opposition leader Odinga pledged to "cooperate fully" with Annan's mediation that began on January 29, nearly a month after the country descended into violence over the election results.

"This is an opportunity to deal with issues that have been under the carpet for too long," he told journalists.

Negotiations have zeroed in on political issues --the most difficult part of the agenda -- after tackling security and the humanitarian crisis.

Kenyan press reports said the sides were considering a possible deal that would entail setting up a bipartisan interim government, with a mandate to enact electoral reforms and pave the way for new polls.

The Red Cross has put the death toll from the post-election violence at over 1,000 and says 300,000 people have fled their homes.

Fifteen people were killed in tribal clashes in the northwestern region of Trans Nzoia on Wednesday and overnight, a police commander told AFP.

They were hacked to death and police said more forces were being deployed to the area, which was already prone to ethnic tensions and deadly cattle rustling before the electoral dispute broke out.

Another 34 people have died in violence in the area since the start of the week, including at least nine who were shot by police cracking down on gangs who have torched houses and other property, police sources said.

After meetings with the rival leaders and Annan, EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said "there are strong signals of flexibility and open-minded attitude" and declared he was "a little bit more optimistic" about Kenya's future.

"All sides have to make efforts, there is a price for agreement," said Michel.

He warned against any attempt to derail the talks but ruled out sanctions by the European bloc.

"Those who think it's possible to escape sanctions or isolation, they have to forget that and I'm speaking to all the parties," Michel told reporters.

Kibaki's tribe, the Kikuyu, suffered heavily in the first wave of post-election violence at the hands of Odinga's Luo tribe and other ethnic groups, but there have since been numerous revenge attacks.

Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) accused the government of arming militias, saying it had ordered firearms from a Chinese company for gangs "who are then unleashed to kill innocent Kenyans protesting the flawed presidential elections".

The government dismissed the accusations as "preposterous", with spokesman Alfred Mutua saying "these accusations are not helping the talks, they are undermining dialogue."

The UN Security Council late Wednesday expressed strong backing for Annan's mediation and urged the leaders to find a settlement, in its first formal statement on the crisis since the elections.

The turmoil has delivered a crippling blow to Kenya's tourism industry, the top foreign currency earner, while tea production and agriculture have also been hard hit.

Safari resorts across Kenya and popular beach hotels in Mombasa have lost more than half of their business and the economy, which had been steaming ahead with seven percent growth, is seen as headed for a slowdown.