Saturday, February 02, 2008

Kenya Still Burning Despite Political Agreement

By Cernig

Kenya's troubles continue, despite an agreement between feuding politicians to end weeks of bloodshed.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan brokered a deal between Kenya's rival parties on Friday to take immediate steps to end post-election violence which has killed nearly 900 people and displaced more than a quarter of a million.

But the ethnic tensions in Kenya have taken on a momentum of their own, going beyond a standoff over President Mwai Kibaki's disputed December 27 re-election, and despite the politicians' pledges, the violence continued.

Flames soared over slum dwellings belonging to members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe in the Rift Valley town of Kericho -- around 250 km (155 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi -- where at least four people have died in fighting in recent days.

Residents dragged out mattresses, cupboards, suitcases and pots and pans, piling them onto carts.

"Let Annan do his bit but there's going to be no resolution. The clashes will continue," said one youth who gave his name as Lefty, manning a roadblock near Kericho where police opened fire to disperse protesters on Friday.

...Pressure on the two sides to reach a deal is intense, both from within Kenya and from the international community.

"Both parties now face a historic responsibility: choose dialogue or bear responsibility for a political and human catastrophe," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.
Hmmm, national politicians from different sides willing to talk, even deal, but grassroots faction fighting having taken on a life of its own to the point where nothing the politicians say makes a difference. Now where have I heard that before?

If Kenya is really unlucky, by the time the violent militias start to run out of steam, divisions created by bloodshed will be so entrenched that the politicians will refuse to reconcile after all. I hope some breakthrough can be made before that occurs, for their sakes.

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