Annan: 'Gross abuses' in Kenya

Scores of people killed as machete-wielding gangs clash in the western Rift Valley.

    Police fired bullets and tear gas to disperse hundreds of machete-wielding youths in Nakuru [AFP]

    Gunshots rang out from the southern slums of the Rift Valley's provincial capital of Nakuru as police attempted to disperse tribal gangs that clashed with machetes and spears as well as bows and arrows.

    'Sacrificial lambs'

    "All those who are fanning the violence are staying comfortably in their luxury homes while we burn," Urunga Maina, who rushed his nephew to hospital after he was attacked by a machete-wielding mob, said.

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    "We are being used as sacrificial lambs."

    Al Jazeera correspondent Mohammed Adow said that the Kenyan government had for the first time deployed the country's military in the month of bloodshed following the December 27 polls.

    More than 100 wounded were admitted to one Nakuru hospital, including one man with an arrow lodged in his head.

    "Our hospital staff and amenities are now overstretched as our surgical ward only has a capacity of 36 patients but we are currently attending to over 90," George Mugenya, a medical superintendent, said.

    Njenga, one of hundreds of people taking shelter at a Catholic church after their homes were torched, told the Associated Press news agency: "We are planning revenge, we are searching for weapons.

    "Now it will be the survival of the fittest," he said.


    'Systematic abuses'


    Annan is on the fifth day of trip to Kenya to mediate the crisis sparked by the re-election as president of Mwai Kibaki, who opposition leader Raila Odinga claims robbed him of rightful victory. 

    After visiting the Rift Valley with Benjamin Mkapa, the former Tanzanian president, and Graca Machel, wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, he condemned "systematic" rights abuses in the region.

    Annan has so far failed to make headway in the
    crisis parked by the contested election [AFP]

    "We saw gross and systematic human rights abuses of fellow citizens," Annan said. "Impunity can not be allowed to stand."



    Annan, Mkapa and Machel toured camps of displaced people in western Kenya who had fled fighting between supporters of Kibaki and Odinga in an area tense with latent land and ethnic disputes.


    "What we saw was rather tragic," Annan said.


    "I hope there is a serious investigation to establish facts and that those responsible will be punished," he added, calling on the government to boost security in the region.


    International mediators have so far failed to make headway in the crisis, which has shattered the stable image and economy of the east African nation.


    Annan on Thursday orchestrated a symbolic first meeting between  Kibaki and Odinga, who shook hands, called for peace and hinted at a  willingness to talk.


    The gesture, hailed internationally, was later undermined by further squabbling, with both sides maintaining their hardline positions.

    "Let us not kid ourselves and think that this is an electoral problem. It is much broader and much deeper," Annan said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and Agencies


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