Post-poll violence: US threatens
Story by NATION Team and Agencies
Publication Date: 1/31/2008
Foreign countries may impose a solution on Kenya to end the
post-election crisis if its leaders fail to reach a workable
settlement, the United States warned Wednesday.
Its tough message came as international pressure mounted on the
rival factions led by President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga
to reach settlement to the poll dispute, which has left more than
850 dead and over 350,000 displaced in one month.
Dr Jendayi Frazer, the US top diplomat for Africa, said she
planned to consult African leaders meeting in Addis Ababa this
week on the way forward, and warned that a solution from outside
the country could be imposed on Kenya if it does not solve its own
“We’ll find an international mechanism if they can’t find it
internally,” she said.
Her comments were echoed by the Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza
Rice, who stressed the urgency for Kenyan leaders to find a
It was the clearest signal yet of the world’s growing impatience
with the wave of killings which have rocked different parts of the
country since Mr Kibaki was declared winner of the presidential
elections on December 30
On Wednesday, Australia’s Foreign minister Stephen Smith announced
that his government officials in Kenya would limit their contact
with Cabinet ministers over the disputed election result.
Mr Smith said Australia did not want to perceived as supporting
any of the parties in the conflict.
“I’ve indicated today that we will start now to limit ministerial
contact in Kenya as part of our responses to seeking to encourage
all the political leaders in Kenya to commence sensibly the
mediation processes which Kofi Annan is trying to affect,” he said.
Speaking in Washington on Tuesday, Dr Rice appealed for Kenya’s
political leaders to broker an end to the violence.
“There needs to be a political resolution of this conflict. The
election was not one that inspired confidence in the Kenyan people,”
The leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the
President of the EU Commission welcomed the face-to-face encounter
between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga through the Kofi Annan
mediation and called for an end to the violence.
British prime minister Gordon Brown, French president Nicolas
Sarkozy, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian prime minister
Romano Prodi and EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso asked
both sides to pursue urgent dialogue for the sake of the country.
“We fully support Kofi Annan’s efforts and those of Ben Mkapa and
Graca Machel. We call on Kenya’s leaders to pursue this dialogue
urgently, including in addressing the underlying issues - as they
have committed to do - in order to resolve Kenya’s problems and
put in place the basis of governance that is representative of the
democratic will of the Kenyan people.”
Responding to the US stance, Government spokesman Alfred Mutua
said Kenya was currently seeking a solution to the crisis because
it was capable of handling its own matters.
Since the December 27 election, the death toll across a country,
since last December among the most stable in Africa, has soared to
more than 850.
Separately, a group of international donors announced that they
were freezing Sh2.9 billion to the Governance, Justice, Law and
Order programme which has helped reform the country’s prisons, the
prosecution department in the Attorney-General’s office and the
The programme’s chief technical coordinator Jacques Cartens wrote
to government ministries, departments and agencies informing them
of the suspension.
But Mr Cartens described the move as “short term and would be
In other development, President Kibaki launched a Sh1 billion fund
to help victims of the violence and displacement.
A Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning resolved to take a
no-nonsense approach in dealing with the lawlessness in parts of
Following the meeting, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Internal
Security minister George Saitoti said law enforcers would now deal
firmly with the lawlessness and ensure that the nation’s highways
are free of gangs.
But even as he spoke, tension was high at Muguga, Kikuyu and
Limuru areas, where major research organisations, including Kenya
Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) and Kenya Forestry Research
Institute (Kefri) started evacuating their staff following threats.
In Addis Ababa, Ms Frazer said there was clear evidence of ethnic
cleansing in Rift Valley, but it did not amount to genocide.
“There has been an organised effort to push out people from Rift
Valley... It is clearly ethnic cleansing. I don’t consider it
genocide,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
Ms Frazer said the United States was keen to see investigation
into the violence, including the killing of civilians by police.
She called on Kenyan leaders to avoid inflammatory rhetoric.
“We are advocating some kind of power-sharing and some kind of
coalition government,” she said, adding that the country needed
constitutional and land reform to address deep-seated grievances
between various groups.
Speaking separately in Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said
intervention by the military may be the only way to halt the
“This is a case of emergency where certain things have to be done
very quickly to stop the killings that are going on. There’s no
time to go into niceties and debates when the killings are taking
place,” President Kagame, who heads a nation recovering from a
1994 genocide that claimed nearly a million citizens in three
months, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the UN special adviser on preventing genocide and
atrocities warned leaders responsible for the violence that they
could be held to account for violating international law.
Mr Francis Deng pledged to dispatch a staff member to assess the
situation in Kenya. The official, Ms Marylene Smeets, was due to
leave on Thursday, Mr Deng said.
But he clarified his organisation had not classified the killings
“We’re not talking the G-word at this point, but the kind of
atrocities we’re seeing could easily escalate to dangerous levels,”
Separately, deputy US ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro
Wolff said he raised the Kenyan crisis at a meeting of the UN
Security Council on Tuesday.
“We think this is a tragic situation. We thought it was high time
that the council hear from the (UN) secretariat and get a full
briefing on the situation on the ground.”