Kenyan rivals strike deal to try and stop violence
By Duncan Miriri 1 hour, 11 minutes ago
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's government and opposition
struck an agreement on Friday to take immediate steps
to try and end tribal bloodshed in a five-week-old
political standoff in which about 850 people have been
The agreement was brokered by former U.N. head Kofi
Annan, leading an African mediation mission to resolve
the standoff that began when a December 27 poll
returned President Mwai Kibaki to power. Opposition
leader Raila Odinga says the vote was rigged.
Annan said the two sides would discuss how to stop the
violence, delivery of humanitarian aid and how to end
the political impasse before tackling a longer term
solution in Kenya, East Africa's biggest economy and a
popular tourist spot.
"The first (agenda item) is to take immediate action
to stop the violence," Annan told a news conference,
adding that both sides would get round the negotiating
table from Monday.
"But more importantly, the parties agreed that the
first three items (on the agenda) could be handled and
resolved within 7 to 15 days," said Annan.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew into Nairobi
on Friday from an African Union summit in Addis Ababa
to add his heavyweight diplomatic clout to his
"The killing must stop," said Ban, echoing the alarm
expressed by world leaders at seeing Kenya, long
viewed as a peacemaker on a volatile continent, plunge
into turmoil. Kenya is a key ally of the West in its
efforts to counter al Qaeda.
"You have lost already too much in terms of national
image, economic interest," said Ban.
Senior opposition official Musalia Mudavadi said the
two sides agreed to urge supporters to end the
"We are calling on the public to disband any illegal
militia," he said.
Justice Minister Martha Karua agreed and said steps
would be taken to protect life and property.
Violence was reported in flashpoints in western Kenya
"I saw around 20 torched houses ... and two policemen
with arrow wounds. At least 10 people have died from
both sides," said a local journalist, who declined to
More than 300,000 Kenyans are living as refugees
because the violence has forced them to flee their
Both sides have traded accusations of genocide in the
fighting, which has often pitted Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe
-- long-dominant in political and business life in
East Africa's biggest economy -- and Odinga's Luo
tribe against each other.
The unrest has taken the lid off decades-old divisions
between tribal groupings over land, wealth and power,
dating from British colonial rule and stoked by Kenyan
politicians during 44 years of independence.
Kibaki says he is Kenya's elected leader but
international observers said the count was so chaotic
it was impossible to tell who won.
Earlier on Friday before the Annan-brokered agreement,
Kibaki took an uncompromising line over the turmoil in
his country and diplomats said Africa was divided over
Speakers on the first day of the AU summit on Thursday
called for urgent action to stop the violence,
stepping up pressure on Kibaki and Odinga to find a
But in two speeches on Friday, to the summit and a
separate meeting of the East African regional grouping
IGAD, Kibaki repeatedly attacked the opposition and
stuck to positions already rejected by Odinga.
He said he had been elected by a majority of Kenyans,
firmly put the blame for deaths on Odinga's Orange
Democratic Movement (ODM) and said the dispute must be
settled by Kenya's courts.
Odinga rejects a solution through the courts on
grounds that they are stacked with Kibaki allies and
would take years to issue a ruling.
The 53 member nations of the AU seemed divided over
"There are divisions between one group who see
themselves in Kibaki's situation and another that has
told him in no uncertain terms that this is not
acceptable," said one Western diplomat, adding that
South Africa was in the latter group.
South Africa says Kenya's crisis will be a disaster
for the continent if not resolved quickly.
The United States and European countries have pledged
their support for Annan's mediation efforts. Donors
have said aid programs to Kenya are under review.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne, Bryson Hull
and Tim Cocks in Nairobi, David Lewis in Eldoret,
Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Ralph Gowling)
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