See also:
» 16.02.2010 - Kenya heading for a political disaster
» 15.02.2010 - Kibaki overrules PM’s decision
» 26.01.2010 - US mission to address E/Africa human rights before AU Summit
» 22.12.2009 - Kenya to counter Tanzania's Ivory sales proposal
» 21.12.2009 - Environmentalists fight developments in Tana River
» 11.12.2009 - Britain bans 20 Kenyan officials
» 10.12.2009 - Efforts intensify to fight malaria in Kenya and Nigeria
» 25.11.2009 - Kenya cuts lending rate to 7 percent

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AU mediates Kenya unrest

afrol News, 2 January - The African Union Chairman and President of Ghana, John Kufuor, is in the Kenyan capital Nairobi trying to engage Kenyan political leaders to settle their differences over the disputed election results so that peace and calm return to the country.

The declaration and the subsequent swearing of President Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the controversial race at the weekend sparked off bloody unrest in the East African country.

Already, the post-electoral unrest has claimed the lives of 300 people. The dead persons included 30 others [women and children] burnt to death in a church they sought refuge in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret.

Reports of deaths continue to be reported in some parts of the country, including the Western town of Kericho where youths armed with bows and arrows allegedly killed two police officers. And out of fear for their lives, hundreds of the town's residents took refuge in Kericho police station.

Also, Kenya's Red Cross reported the displacement of about 70,000 people as a result of the tension.

Hundreds of people, mainly Kikuyus [people of Kibaki's tribe] have fled to the neighbouring Uganda. They have been accused of denying the Luos [the tribe of the leader of the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement, Raila Odinga] from becoming the President of Kenya.

Odinga said Kenyans were robbed of their democratic rights because the victory was stolen from him.

After three days of mysterious counting process, Kibaki who was declared the winner had immediately taken oath of office.

Despite the validation of the vote counting, human rights activists raised concerns over massive differences in 49 constituencies between the total parliamentary and presidential votes. They were also concerned about the delay in announcing the official results.

Observers said the elections "fell short of international standards." A joint report by the United States and UK said there were serious irregularities in the vote count. The Kibaki government refuted fraud claims.

However, four electoral officers doubted the credibility of the results. The body's Chairman, Samuel Kivuitu admitted that he was pressurised by the PNU and some opposition members to declare the results.

Mr Kufuor's visit has got the full backing of Britain and the United States. He is expected to convince the two sides to call their supporters to bury the hatch and form a government of national unity.

The AU leader's mediation followed intense international diplomatic efforts, including that of the head of the Commonwealth electoral mission to Kenya, the former Sierra Leone President, Ahmed Tijan Kabbah.

Kabbah had pushed the three presidential contenders - Kibaki, Odinga and Kalonso Musyoka - to consent to a join message to the nation inviting people to calm down.

While Musyoka has agreed to be part of a national unity government, the ODM insisted for a recount of votes by an independent body. Odinga's party believed that by taking part in such a government means an endorsement of Kibaki's controversial victory.

Odinga has ruled out attempts to seek redress in the courts either. He is expected to lead a million match rally in the capital Nairobi on Thursday.

International human rights body [FIDH] joined Kenya's Human Rights Commission (KHRC) to not only strongly condemn the spate of killings but also press for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry.

The organisations are deeply concerned by the current security situation in Kenya. They fear that events will turn into serious ethnic clashes.

Kenyan authorities have been asked to "respect the right to freedom of expression, demand the security forces to proportionally respond to protests and ensure that all individuals responsible for human rights violations be prosecuted."

Activists also urged the Kibaki government to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on summary executions to visit Kenya.

FIDH and KHRC called on the ODM leader to repeat his call for calm, protest the results of the elections through legal proceedings and engage into a political dialogue with Mr Mwai Kibaki.

They called on the international community to establish an international independent commission to investigate on the electoral process and on the subsequent exactions committed in Kenya.

Most people have been surprised that a country that prides itself of being one of Africa's greatest democracies and stable countries could be soaked in days of bloody unrest. Kenya, East Africa's biggest economy and Chairman of the regional economic bloc, has been presiding over conflict negotiation in its volatile region.

The unrest has undoubtedly caused serious blow to the Kenyan economy.

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