Annan crushed by Ramaphosa's
withdrawal from Kenya
February 04, 2008
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is bitterly disappointed by
the withdrawal of negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa in the Kenyan
mediation talks. This follows government reservations over his
role as key negotiator. Ramaphosa would not continue, without the
full confidence and support, of all parties.
The government of President Mwai Kibaki was not happy with
Ramaphosa's participation, claiming he had business links with
opposition leader Raila Odinga. Hundreds of people have been
killed in riots and ethnically motivated violence in Kenya since a
disputed December 27 election returned Kibaki to power.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan government and opposition negotiators have
agreed on urgent steps to address the humanitarian crisis as more
than 300 000 people are displaced because of the violence.
Kenya's image as a stable and prosperous African state has
suffered badly as a result of the crisis. What started as a
political dispute has uncorked decades-old divisions between
tribal groups over land, wealth and power, dating from British
colonial rule and stoked by Kenyan politicians for personal gain
during 44 years of independence.
At least 900 people have been killed in ethnic violence and
clashes with the security forces. Some 300 000 have been forced to
flee their homes in one of modern Kenya's worst periods.
Talks between the rival sides resumed today with a Red Cross
briefing on the extent of the bloodshed, officials said. Kenya's
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, just back from an
African Union (AU) summit where Kenya was in the spotlight, said
the east African regional bloc IGAD -- chaired by Kenya's
government -- would be involved in efforts to end the crisis.
But an opposition spokesperson dismissed the invitation to IGAD
ministers as an attempt by the Kibaki government to win
recognition from neighbouring states.
Wetangula said both sides had made statements "that could spoil
the mediation talks" and urged a rapid solution. "We cannot afford
to be a permanent feature on television screens for all the wrong
reasons," he said.
Residents urge politicians to get to work
In the volatile and ethnically mixed western region, gangs fired
arrows and threw rocks at each other in front of police, who were
unable or unwilling to intervene yesterday.
Today residents said calm had returned save for a little looting,
and urged the politicians to get to work.
"Raila and Kibaki must be serious. They must not talk together and
then go to the press saying something different. They should agree
on what they tell Kenyans. We are confused," farmer Sylvester
Barake said, sitting in an empty gas station.
Additional reporting by Reuters