News 2008


Kofi Annan Urges Kenyans to Ensure Peace


02. March 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) Kofi Annan said Sunday that Kenyans must ensure the country moves beyond a bloody postelection crisis now that its political leaders have agreed to share power.

Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general, mediated weeks of often-bitter talks between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga. Kibaki's disputed re-election in a Dec. 27 vote unleashed weeks of violence after both sides claimed to have won. More than 1,000 people died.

"I would urge all of you to remain engaged," Annan said in a message to Kenya's 36 million people as he left the country Sunday.

The power-sharing deal reached Thursday gives Odinga an executive prime minister post more power than Kibaki initially wanted to yield to his rival. The two sides had come under huge pressure from the international community to share power and help heal a divided country.

International and domestic observers say the vote tally from the election was deeply flawed. Much of the bloodshed that followed pitted ethnic groups, such as Odinga's Luo tribe, against Kibaki's Kikuyu people, long resented for their domination of the economy and politics.

Politicians have been accused of fomenting violence. Now the uneasy coalition will have to work together to disarm militia groups.

Annan said in a statement Saturday that former Nigerian foreign affairs minister Olu Adeniji will be the chief mediator in his absence.

"It is clear that there is a fresh commitment to this process, and I am convinced that these talks will now go smoothly and rapidly," Annan said. "I will never be far away. And can return on short notice if I am needed. And, as I told you, I will be looking in on the talks from time to time."