Kenya President, Opposition
By MALKHADIR M. MUHUMED
04. March 2008
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Kenya's president and the rival with whom he
has agreed to share power after weeks of bitter negotiations held
a two-hour meeting Tuesday about how to move the country past
postelection violence that killed more than 1,000 people.
President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga both
claim to have won Dec. 27 presidential elections. Their dispute
unleashed weeks of bloodshed, exposing divisions over land and
International and local observers say the vote was rigged and it's
unclear who won, and they accuse politicians of fomenting the
"We agreed that we want to heal the wounds which were inflicted
during these last two months," Odinga told reporters as he left
the meeting, which he described as "very productive."
It was the first meeting between Kibaki and Odinga since they
struck a political deal last week to share power, with Odinga
serving as prime minister.
On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised his
predecessor, Kofi Annan, for his role in mediating. Annan had
shown "great leadership" in defusing two months of postelection
conflict in the east African nation, Ban said.
Despite the deal, many fear the fighting — much of it pitting
longtime neighbors against each other — will not wane easily.
On Monday, 13 people were burned alive or hacked to death in what
police described as one in a series of clashes over land in the
region at the foot of Mount Elgon in Kenya's fertile Rift Valley,
some 300 miles northwest of Nairobi.
Bernard Muli, a police chief in the area, blamed the Sabaot Land
Defense Force, a militia group fighting for the redistribution of
land in western Kenya.
There was no claim of responsibility. A member of the SLDF, who
spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said his
group is simply trying to "correct historical injustices."
Some 800 people have been killed in land clashes in the region
since 2006, said Ken Wafula, executive director of the Center for
Human Rights and Democracy in the Rift Valley.
The tensions trace back to Kenya's colonial era, when white
settlers seized land in the western Rift Valley. The Kikuyus who
lived there were dispersed throughout the country, and the British
ruled by keeping the groups divided.
At independence in 1963, Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta,
helped his Kikuyu kinsmen by appointing them to top government
posts and easing the way for them to buy land from white settlers.
The Kikuyu quickly prospered, growing into the most powerful
ethnic group in the country, running business and politics. The
favoritism shown to Kikuyus fueled a simmering anger among the
nation's 41 other tribes.
The old bitterness regularly erupts over land, particularly at