Thursday, January 10, 2008

Keeping Kenya

To be sure, it was difficult to see how Kenya's president, Mwai Kibaki, and opposition leader Raila Odinga could accomplish anything through negotiation in the overheated political situation in the East African nation. So, it came as so surprise to hear today that diplomats from the African Union, the United States and Great Britain were unable to get the feuding political leaders to resolve the dispute over last month's contested election, as the Reuters international news service reported. Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement party claim Kibaki stole the election after losing the popular vote on Dec. 27; Kibaki claimed victory and swore in a new cabinet Tuesday. The dispute has resulted in unrest that has so far cost at least 500 lives and displaced 250,000 in a country that had been one of Africa's biggest success stories. AU Chairman John Kufuor, in Nairobi to mediate talks that never came about, said both sides agreed to work with a new panel headed by former U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan. Kufuor left Nairobi today after a two-day visit. But if Kibaki did steal the election, there is nothing to negotiate. He needs to be forced out (maybe to face criminal charges) and the proper winner of the balloting needs to to be seated. Kibaki and Odinga reportedly had reached an agreement through intermediaries to examine the election results and hold new balloting if needed, but Kibaki reportedly repudiated the deal, Reuters said. Kibaki's office denied knowledge of an agreement. Kenya's National Commission on Human Rights today demanded a criminal investigation into the conduct of the country's electoral commission. Both the U.S. and Britain have said the election was flawed.

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