Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kenya consternation

The U.N. Security Council could be considering sending peacekeeping forces to Kenya to separate the rival political factions whose election dispute has disintegrated into tribal street fighting that has resulted in more than 1,000 deaths since December. Today, the Security Council approved its second resolution in a week demanding an end to what it called "ethnically motivated attacks" and calling on the government to dismantle armed gangs and improve the humanitarian situation, the Reuters international news service reported. More than 300,000 Kenyans have been displaced since President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected Dec. 27 in an election opposition leader Raila Odinga denounced as fixed. The 15-country council did not specifically mention what its next step would be, but the use of U.N. troops is a possibility if Kenya's political leaders cannot resolve the conflict. The council expressed support for mediation efforts headed by former Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has brought the opposing factions together for negotiations. The statement had expressed concern over "abuses in the presidential election" but that language was removed after objections from Russia, Reuters said. Also today, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a mission to Nairobi for three weeks to investigate allegations of "grave human rights violations." U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on Friday for a three-day visit to assess the humanitarian situation.

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