Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kenya News: EU Meets Kibaki, Opposition Ready for Talks; More Deaths, etc.

EU Meets Kibaki, Says He's Willing to See Raila

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
20 January 2008
By David Ohito And PPS

The standoff between the Government and ODM could ease and then end.

This emerged on Saturday after President Kibaki met a high level European Union delegation and said he is willing to meet ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga soon.

The delegation also announced that it would await the outcome of dialogue between President Kibaki and the ODM leader before taking any action.

EU Commissioner, Mr Louis Michel said that the organisation had not taken any decision yet on what action to take regarding the political crisis.

Addressing a high-powered meeting that included Cabinet ministers, the President reiterated that he was open to dialogue to address the stalemate.

The commissioner said Kenya was an important country in the region, as it has been a shining example for consolidating democracy and a beacon of stability in Africa.

He commended Kenya for conducting the elections peacefully but condemned the post-election violence.

The Commissioner said as a friend of Kenya the EU was hopeful that the current political situation would be resolved through political dialogue.

While supporting the initiative of eminent persons of Africa, the European Union Commissioner said the solution to Kenya's political problem must come from Kenyans themselves.

He noted that although the European Parliament passed a resolution that was not favourable to the Government.

"The EU will not take any precipitating action against Kenya, but will wait for the outcome of the dialogue," said Michel.

The President, however, said any form of violence against innocent Kenyans would not be tolerated.

"The country's security is paramount and the Government will continue beefing up security in affected areas to ensure the lives of wananchi and their property are protected," Kibaki said.

Michel was accompanied by the Head of European Commission delegation in Kenya, Mr Eric Van Der Linden and French Ambassador, Elizabeth Barbie among others.

Present also were, Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Moses Wetangula and his Finance counterpart Mr Amos Kimunya, the Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Muthaura and Foreign Affairs PS, Mr Thuita Mwangi.

As the meeting took place, ODM announced a fresh strategy in its quest for justice over the disputed presidential elections, with resumption of mass action on Thursday.

The party begins the week with an interdenominational funeral service in Kisumu Town. The party says the ceremony will commemorate the deaths of supporters it claims police shoot dead.

On Friday, the party ended three consecutive days of mass action in which protesters clashed with police. At least 30 people were killed and several others are nursing gunshot wounds countrywide.

It is believed the funeral and prayer meetings would provide an opportunity for the leaders to meet supporters and deliver speeches they have been longing to hold.

Party leader, Mr Raila Odinga said ODM was determined to ensure justice prevails over the disputed presidential poll and said mass action would resume alongside new tactics.

In Nairobi, action returns on Wednesday where a similar mass interdenominational funeral service will be conducted at Ligi Ndogo grounds.

On Thursday, the party plans to hold a peaceful mass action countrywide. The Government has outlawed political assemblies and the mass action is expected to bring a fresh round of confrontation between police and protesters.

Interdenominational prayers countrywide will crown the week.

ODM says the prayers are expected to commemorate "the martyrs who have given their lives in their peaceful struggle for democracy."

Party chairman, Mr Henry Kosgey, flanked by Pentagon members Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr William Ruto, Mr Joseph Nyagah unveiled the events at Pentagon House after they met visiting EU Commissioner, Mr Louis Michel.

The party also announced a campaign to boycott products from companies perceived to use their wealth to undermine the rule of law and democracy.

At the same time, it denounced inflammatory advertisement being churned out by the Government to push a blatant lie.

"This is already a volatile and explosive moment in our history, and such advertisements are adding to tension and further dividing the country," Kosgey said.

The party criticised the police for using excessive force and expressed outrage at the killing of a 13-year-old boy in Kibera.

Michel who also met ODM leaders said the root cause of the current situation has to be addressed before the impasse is resolved.

"The recent election of the august House speaker is a sign that leaders are committed to constitutional order and respect for the law," Michel said.

He took issue with ethnic violence, condemning it as absurd and took a swipe at the police for what he termed as executions.

"President Kibaki told me that he was personally keen to meet Raila to solve the problem and restore peace," said Michel.

He observed that Kenya was crucial to her neighbours socially, politically and economically.

VP Says Kibaki Ready to Meet With Opposition

The Nation (Nairobi)
20 January 2008

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has said that President Kibaki is ready to meet and discuss the present political situation with the opposition.

This was affirmed as the European Union promised to donate Sh550 million to assist in humanitarian relief efforts, following the post-election violence in Kenya.

The announcement was made by the EU Commissioner for Development, Louis Michel, during a meeting with Mr Musyoka at the latter's Jogoo House office in Nairobi.

Mr Musyoka thanked the EU for the donation, saying that the money would assist in providing food, shelter and other basic necessities for displaced Kenyans.

The Vice-President said that while the government welcomes efforts by the international community to help resolve the current political crisis, it was necessary that the process of reconciliation and healing be owned by Kenyans.

Mr Musyoka said that the three days of mass action called by leaders of the Orange Democratic Movement last week negated the harmonious spirit that was witnessed in Parliament during the election of the Speaker, and called for an end to further demonstrations.

The Vice-President dismissed international media reports equating the Kenyan crisis to the genocide that occurred in Rwanda, describing them as misleading.

Mr Musyoka, however, implored Kenyans to desist from engaging in the criminal acts witnessed during the clashes, where lives were lost and property destroyed. Mr Michel said the EU regards Kenya as a model of democracy in Africa and a key player in the region.

He, however, expressed concern that the post-election violence had led to loss of lives and wanton destruction of property.

He called on the parties involved in the conflict to urgently engage in dialogue and negotiate a way forward.

Mr Michel expressed optimism that the mediation effort by the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Koffi Annan, and other eminent persons would bear fruit.

Mr Michel was accompanied by the head of the delegation of the European Commission in Kenya, Mr Eric van der Linden, and senior officials from the EU.

Three die in Nairobi slum clashes

Nairobi's slums have seen some of the worst violence
At least three people have died in violence in a Nairobi slum which has seen deadly clashes since last month's disputed Kenyan election.

The bodies of the three killed in Mathare bore machete marks and appear to have been victims of inter-tribal fighting, witnesses said.

An opposition spokesman accused Kenyan police of failing to intervene.

A top EU official is in Kenya as part of outside efforts to mediate an end to the crisis over the presidential vote.

EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel has urged both sides to stop exacerbating tensions.

Separately, the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, is expected in Kenya on Tuesday.

Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accuses President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the 27 December election, say they will resume protest rallies on Thursday.

The disturbances have left more than 600 people dead, including at least 31 in the last four days, and a quarter of a million homeless.


Several homes were set ablaze in Mathare during Sunday's violence, where witnesses said the violence had a tribal element between Kikuyus, the tribe of Mr Kibaki, and Luo, the ethnic group which Mr Odinga is from.

An Associated Press reporter saw the body of one man who was beaten to death, apparently a Luo caught by a group of Kikuyus.

Another man staggered past, blood streaming from his mutilated arm after a machete attack, the reporter adds.

A Luo woman who spoke to Reuters said she had been asked what tribe she was from.

"Even before I could tell them, they took my bag and even wanted to cut me with a machete," she said.

"I was just saved by the grace of God, they have taken everything I had."

Musalia Mudavadi, an official from Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), visited the injured in hospital and attacked the actions of the police.

"Now we are seeing cases of the police actually giving way and allowing people to attack each other," he told AP.

Positive silence

Mr Michel, who met political leaders from both sides in Nairobi, said he was concerned that the Kenyan police were using excessive force against opposition demonstrators.

But he also criticised the opposition's decision to resume mass rallies which could lead to more violence.

"Now there is a need for a military ceasefire and also for a semantic rhetoric ceasefire," he said.

"Now we need a quiet situation, we need just a little bit positive silence."

The ODM, which wants a re-run of the election, had originally called off protests in favour of a boycott of companies that back President Kibaki.

Kenya's National Commission on Human Rights cast doubt on the vote, listing a catalogue of irregularities on Friday.

Raiders Kill Six As They Besiege Monastery

The Nation (Nairobi)
20 January 2008
By Sollo Kiragu And Peter Ng'etich

Six people were killed near a monastery in Kipkelion District that was last night besieged by armed youths.

Local DC Mr Abdi Halake confirmed the deaths and said the raiders 50 houses had been burnt down.

Fr Dominic Vincent Nkoyoyo, a priest at the monastery, told the Sunday Nation that the youths armed with bows, arrows and machetes attacked the institution from Morou, Kasaeen, Kamusyan, Mutagoron and Kutung areas.

The monastery is currently housing over 600 victims of post-election violence.

"The police have collected five bodies from the area around the monastery. They have also brought in four wounded victims of the violence. The victims whom we are treating at our (health) facility here have arrow wounds," Fr Nkoyoyo said.

The priest who spoke to the Sunday Nation on phone said he had called the DC to send in more policemen to the institution as he feared the few officers there were likely to be overwhelmed by the attackers.

He said he had called the local DC who promised to send in security personnel by helicopter help them. Mr Halake last night confirmed that policemen had been sent to secure the area. He however said the youths were still burning houses.

The priest said they had been receiving threats of attack in the past two weeks.

Journalists could not access the monastery as a group of youths had blocked the road.

The monastery has 23 monks, two of them from Tanzania and seven from Uganda. The rest are Kenyans. Its health centre has three nurses from Sisters of St Mary Congregation.

In a related incident, about 100 arsonists yesterday burnt down seven houses in Ilula area in Eldoret.

The arsonists armed with bows, arrows and spears struck at around 1.30 pm. A resident of the area, Mr John Kamau, said: "The one who set our house ablaze is a neighbour we have lived with since we were young and I even asked him if it was justified for him to burn our home." Mr Kamau said they settled in the area in 1978.

Most homes have been deserted since the violence began on December 30.

In Eldoret town, the people went on with their normal business as calm returned.

Mr Joash Kipsiele, a local farmer, said he hoped that peace would continue to prevail so that farming could continue uninterrupted.

"Though the Electoral Commission of Kenya let this country down, we hope that President Kibaki and Raila Odinga will look for a solution, for they have already polarised country," he told the Sunday Nation in Eldoret town.

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