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Africa
Kenya violence toll tops 1,000
Peace talks resume despite government rejecting South African mediator.
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2008 02:50 GMT

Thousands of Kenyans have fled their homes
due to the spreading violence [AFP]

The toll in Kenya's post-election violence has surpassed 1,000, the Red Cross says.
 
Thousands have been injured and 304,000 made homeless, Tony Mwangi, a spokesman for Kenya's Red Cross, said as violence sparked by an election dispute last month continued on Monday.
The initial protests, now turned into ethnic clashes, were triggered by disputes between Mwai Kibaki, the president, and his opposition rival, Raila Odinga, over who won the December 27 presidential vote observers say was too badly run for anyone to know.

Ethnic fighting flared in western Kenya on Monday as mediation talks resumed despite the withdrawal of Cyril Ramaphosa as mediator.

 

Mediator withdraws

 

Kenyan government officials complained that Ramaphosa, the chief negotiator for South Africa's African National Congress in talks that ended apartheid in 1994, has business links to Odinga. 
 

Last week Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, mediated an agreement between Kibaki and Odinga to take steps to resolve the crisis within 15 days.

 

The parties also welcomed a UN human rights team to investigate the violence and agreed to the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission comprising local and international jurists.

 

Annan chose Ramaphosa to head the talks but the South African tycoon said he could not function as mediator "without the complete confidence" of both parties, and decided to go home "so I don’t become a stumbling block myself".


Later on Monday Annan said the next stage of the talks, on political issues, "is going to take hard negotiations, understandably give and take".

 

More violence 

 

The government lifted a month-long ban on live television broadcasts that officials had feared could stoke more violence, saying security had improved.

 

But more fighting followed news of Ramaphosa's departure, with hundreds of youths armed with bows and arrows and machetes attacking one another, Hassan Noor, the Rift Valley provincial commissioner, said.

 

Children's homes have also come
under attack [GALLO/GETTY]
In Sotik town, at least seven people were killed overnight in clashes between Kisii and Kalenjin communities in a region 250km west of Nairobi, said Humphrey Nakitare, the district commissioner.

 

A children's refuge in western Kenya was looted and burned over the weekend by youths from a surrounding village.

 

Samuel Rutto, headmaster of the Sugoi-Munsingen Children's Home and School, said gangs were using politics to take advantage of the chaos.

 

"This had nothing to do with the elections," he said. "It is just believed that [the school] belonged to the Kikuyus."

 

Much of the violence has pitted other ethnic groups against Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe which has long been resented for its perceived dominance of Kenyan business and politics.

Source:
Agencies
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