Peace talks resume to end
violence in Kenya after opposition calls for international troops
The Associated Press
04. Feb. 2008
BONDO, Kenya: Kenya's opposing political forces resumed peace
talks Monday, in a push to end weeks of violence that has wracked
this East African country once considered one of the most stable
on the continent.
The meetings, mediated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, came after the two sides agreed a two-week plan to try to
end ethnic clashes that followed the Dec. 27 presidential election,
which foreign and local observers said was rigged.
Overnight, at least seven people were killed in western Kenya in
fighting between Kisii and Kalenjin communities who were battling
in an area 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of the capital, said
District Commissioner of Sotik town Humphrey Nakitare. The
fighting was continuing, he said.
Western Kenya has been the scene of some of the worst bloodshed
since the election, with gangs armed with machetes and bows and
arrows attacking each other and torching houses.
On Sunday, opposition leader Raila Odinga called on international
peacekeepers to help end the violence that has killed more than
800 and made some 300,000 homeless.
"The AU (African Union) should bring in peacekeepers because the
violence in Kenya is appalling," Raila Odinga told The Associated
Press in an interview at his villa-style home in this western
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 Monday, the negotiators tackle the humanitarian plight, said
William Ruto, an opposition negotiator.
"Today, we are discussing the humanitarian situation in the
country," Ruto said, adding that on Tuesday they will turn to the
Representatives of Kibaki and Odinga agreed Friday to take
immediate action to end the violence and said they would complete
talks within 15 days on measures to resolve the political crisis.
Annan said it would take up to a year to solve deeper problems.
Ruto said his party has faith in the Annan-led mediation.
"We are hopeful that Annan's mission will succeed because it has
the support of the international community, and our party is
determined to give it every chance to make it a success," he said.
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. "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 shorts.
He talked to crowds after a church service later Sunday, blaming
the police for some of the 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
On Sunday, gangs faced off in the western town of Sotik where
several houses had been torched. 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.
Associated Press writers Katharine Houreld in Eldoret and Matti
Huuhtanen in Nairobi contributed to this report.