Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Kenya protests threatened
Opposition leaders in Kenya threatened a return to street protests today if ongoing high-level talks fail to resolve the two-month political standoff that has seriously damaged the ecoonomy and reputation of the East African nation. The Orange Democratic Movement of presidential election runner-up Raila Odinga said in a statement today that the government was "procrastinating" and not behaving like a "serious partner" in negotiations being mediated by Kofi Annan, the former U.N. Secretary General, to resolve the crisis. "The ODM proposes that parliament be summoned within the next week to enact the necessary changes in the constitution to implement these mediation proposals. If that does not happen, ODM will resume peaceful mass action," the ODM statement said, according to the Reuters international news service. Protests in Nairobi following the razor-thin Dec. 27 election, in which President Mwai Kibaki claimed re-election but which Odinga claimed was stolen, turned violent under police pressure and quickly spread around the country. Tribal violence followed as society began unraveling. But Kibaki, Odinga and other leaders have been meeting for two weeks with Annan to try to resolve the crisis and save Kenya, long considered one of Africa's greatest success stories. Kibaki has consistently denied that anything untoward happened in the election, even though many of the ballots were reportedly destroyed and a recound is impossible. Negotiations on a reported power-sharing proposal have so far failed to produce an agreement.