Tuesday :: Jan 29, 2008

Can Annan Save Kenya?


by Turkana

Agence France-Presse had these hopeful words:

Amid the chaos, a mediating team led by Kofi Annan, which has been in Kenya for a week, said it would launch formal dialogue between President Mwai Kibaki and his opposition rival Raila Odinga at 4:00 p.m. (1300 GMT) in Nairobi.

If Annan's mission fails, however, it might be time for the international community to step in. With force. Because this was the real story, in that story:

The slaying of a Kenyan opposition lawmaker sparked riots Tuesday across the east African nation already reeling from weeks of deadly clashes set off by disputed elections.

Police fired tear gas and hundreds took to the streets of opposition strongholds in western Kenya and Nairobi's slums to protest the murder of opposition MP Mugabe Were from Nairobi's Embakasai constituency.

Heavily-armed police patrolled two recent western Rift Valley flashpoints of violence, the lakeside towns of Nakuru and Naivasha, where scores have died in gruesome attacks in recent days, pushing the overall death toll since the December 27 election to more than 900.

Plumes of smoke rose from Naivasha's slums and machete-wielding youths burned houses and roamed the streets, an AFP correspondent said.

The machetes should chill the blood of anyone who remembers the genocide in Rwanda. Both sides have charged the other with committing or approaching genocide, Genocide Watch has called a Stage 6 alert, and the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide is sending staff. It does not get more serious.

The beating and hacking murders have continued, and reports emerged, last week, that these were not random coincidences; that they were, in fact, planned and coordinated. Even as Annan began mediation efforts, riots and violence raged on.

The BBC reported, last week:

Terrifying mobs of young men armed with panga (machetes), rungus (wooden clubs) and bows and arrows stormed through the streets of Nakuru on Friday.

The market town, the capital of Kenya's Rift Valley, has not witnessed scenes like this for many years, if ever.

And the Guardian told of similar madness in the popular tourist town of Naivasha, yesterday.

As Bloomberg reported:

"There is gross and systematic abuse of human rights,'' Annan told journalists in Nairobi today after a visit to the conflict-torn western Rift Valley. "I would hope serious investigations will be made to establish the facts and those responsible punished.''

Mediation efforts by Ghanian President John Kufuor, the current head of the African Union, already failed. Should Annan's attempt meet similar results, the world may have little time to decide whether to take definitive action, or again sit and watch as a nation descends into genocide.

Turkana :: 2:58 AM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!