Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kenya crisis grows

New violence in Kenya's Rift Valley has cast serious doubt on the efforts of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resolve the East African nation's political crisis that has claimed more than 700 lives. Dozens have been killed today in Nakuru, a previously calm lakeshore tourist town, the Reuters international news service reported, as tribal rivalries flared out of control, inflamed by the country's electoral dispute. Kenya, long considered one of Africa's most stable democracies, has been experiencing social disintegration since the close Dec. 27 presidential ballot, in which President Mwai Kibaki claimed re-election. Violence erupted after Kibaki's chief opponent and longtime political rival, Raila Odinga, claimed the election had been stolen. Kibaki is a member of the Kikuyu tribe, while Odinga is a Luo. The world has seen video of Kenyan police shooting demonstrators in the streets, savaging Kenya's reputation and disrupting its vital tourist trade. Annan was able to get Kibaki and Odinga to meet Thursday for the first time since the disputed election, but the meeting dissolved into acrimony during a post-conference press conference. Earlier entreaties by African Union Chairman John Kufuor and by diplomats from the United States and Great Britain were unsuccessful. Both the U.S. and Britain have said the election appeared flawed.

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