Kenya Opposition Wants AU
By KATY POWNALL
03. Feb. 2008
BONDO, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's opposition leader on Sunday called for
international peacekeepers to help restore calm in a country once
considered one of the most stable on the continent, as weeks of
violence linked to the disputed presidential election gathered
In western Kenya, the epicenter of some of the worst bloodshed
since the Dec. 27 vote, gangs with machetes and bows and arrows
faced off and black smoke billowed from torched homes. More than
800 people have died and 300,000 have been forced from their homes
since the election, which foreign and local observers say was
"The (African Union) should bring in peacekeepers because the
violence in Kenya is appalling," Raila Odinga told The Associated
Press during an interview at his villa-style home in this western
AU and government officials could not immediately be reached for
The election returned President Mwai Kibaki to power for a second
five-year term after Odinga's early lead evaporated overnight. The
ensuing violence has degenerated into ethnic clashes over
decades-old grudges about land and resources, with much of the
anger aimed at Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, long resented for their
domination of politics and the economy.
On Sunday, gangs faced off in the western town of Sotik where
several houses had been torched, according to a local reporter at
the scene. A day earlier, young men from rival ethnic groups
hunted each other through the streets of another western town,
Eldoret, burning houses and blocking roads.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan brokered a deal between
Kibaki and Odinga on Friday, laying out a plan to end the violence
before moving onto the tougher political issues at the root of the
fighting. Annan said it should take two weeks to deal with the
immediate crisis and up to a year to solve the deeper problems.
But both sides were still talking tough. Kibaki accused his
opponents of orchestrating the violence, and Odinga said Kenyans
will not allow their votes to be stolen.
"Kenyans will continue to resist Kibaki because they didn't elect
him," Odinga told the AP, in his family home, built on land that
belonged to his great-grandfather, in a walled compound on a
"He has no choice but to step down because the world will judge
him harshly," he said, sitting on a sofa in khaki safari shirt and
Later, he attended a service at the Anglican St. Michael's Parish
Church in Bondo, where a packed congregation interrupted the
bishop's sermon, demanding to hear their local hero.
"We want the heart of the nation," the 1,000-strong crowd chanted,
in the brick building, which had a corrugated iron roof but no
windows or doors.
Afterward, Odinga addressed the crowd from a wooden dais, saying
in his tribal Luo language: "This is not a tribal war. You should
know that even Kikuyus and Kisii voted for me."
He preached peace and urged people to refrain from attacking
others, but said that the police also were to blame for violence.
"At the moment they are a source of insecurity. They are shooting
people to kill. Therefore, we need some kind of foreign force to
come and assist," he said, adding that the Kenyan army is not
"They are answerable to one person, the commander in chief ... (who
is) Kibaki," he said. "That's why we want to have a neutral force;
it can either be the AU or U.N., if the use of military is