Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kenya: Odinga and Kibaki kiss and make up

Kofi must have gotten over his flu.

The two rivals in Kenya's political crisis met on Thursday for the first time since a disputed election and pledged to seek an end to weeks of unrest that have killed nearly 700 people. President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga shook hands and smiled after the closed-door talks, brokered by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan. Both vowed to continue talks until a solution was found.

Kofi and his band of Eminent African Personalities:

Thursday's talks were facilitated by Annan's team of the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities, which also include former Tanzanian leader Benjamin Mkapa, and the former Mozambique first lady Graca Machel.

Kibaki and Odinga met for one and a half hours, and when the opposition leader emerged, he made no reference to the December 27th vote that he claims was stolen from him. He instead called for patience."We have taken the first vital steps in resolving electoral disputes," Odinga told reporters. "I ask everyone to be patient and uphold peace in a spirit of brotherhood."

Kibaki underlined his victory in the closely-fought elections -- which drew criticism from international observers -- and called for peace."After being sworn in as your duly elected president of Kenya, I will personally lead our country in promoting unity, tolerance peace and harmony," he said.

(Look for the same type of lingo when HRC and BHO have their tawdry political reconciliation at the Democratic convention here in Denver... Feh.)

Trouble persists on the Kenyan street: I wouldn't work in Kibera again.

“When the election results were delayed tension started rising. On that Sunday when they [the Electoral Commission of Kenya] finally announced the results, the situation became really bad. People started killing each other, looting and burning property.

“Our stall at the Toy Market, which I had run with my cousin since the year 2000, was burnt down in broad daylight the next day.

"I remember that Monday; we were at the stall trying to prevent looters from destroying our hard-earned property along with other stall owners but the looters were stronger than us.

"They beat us up and then started stoning us. We had to run for our lives to seek refuge elsewhere. We were not able to save any property because we did not expect the situation to become so bad. We lost clothes worth 100,000 shillings [US$1,470].

"As a result of the violence, the once popular market was turned into a no-go zone especially for the Kikuyu [the ethnic group to which President Mwai Kibaki belongs]. My cousin, who used to live in Kibera and owned some houses there, was also threatened and forced to leave.

Who forced them to leave? The Luo, tribe of BHO.