Kenya violence toll tops 1,000

Peace talks resume despite government rejecting South African mediator.

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

    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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