EU envoy, Ugandan MPs call for talks to end Kenya crisis

KAMPALA - Ugandan opposition political parties resolve to appeal to the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Raila Odinga to undertake peaceful resolutions of the impasse to restore peace in Kenya.
APPEALED FOR CALM: European Union’s Development Commissioner Louis Michel
APPEALED FOR CALM: European Union’s Development Commissioner Louis Michel

KAMPALA - Ugandan opposition political parties have resolved to appeal to the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Raila Odinga to undertake measures that promote constitutional engagement, dialogue and peaceful resolution of the impasse to restore peace and sanity in Kenya.

The parties include the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and the Democratic Party (DP) among others.

The violence in Kenya has paralysed much of the land locked countries in the region with fuel supply shortages, delays in both imports and exports and killed as many as 600 Kenyans and thousands fleeing their homes.

The opposition chief whip Kasiano Wadri said they resolved in their crisis meeting held on Thursday to urge President Mwai Kibaki and his Party National Unity (PNU) to accept international mediation proposals.

Wadri said they believe that Kibaki is still opposed to negotiations and international mediation efforts but argued attempts to restore calm should be accepted by both parties unconditionally.

“We demand that appropriate measures and preparations be put in place to handle the possible surge of refugees in the face of protracted demonstrations across Kenya and proper records of refugees be kept. We also call upon Mr. Kibaki to accept international mediation and support all attempts to restore calm without recourse to undue use of force and repression” he said.

Ugandan MPs had written to the Speaker of Parliament Edward Sekandi asking him to summon parliament, which is currently in recess, to come back for a special sitting over the ongoing chaos in neighboring Kenya. The parliament is supposed resume business on February 5, but the opposition MPs want it back earlier than scheduled.

In the same vein, the European Union’s Development Commissioner Louis Michel has urged both sides to stop exacerbating tensions.

Michel, in Kenya to help find a solution to the crisis, held separate meetings with Kibaki and ODM Odinga.

Odinga’s party says it will resume protest rallies on Thursday. At least 28 people have been killed in the last four days of opposition protests.

Michel, who met political leaders from both sides in Nairobi, said he was concerned that the Kenyan police were using excessive force against opposition demonstrators.
But he also criticised the opposition’s decision to resume mass rallies which could lead to more violence.

“Now there is a need for a military ceasefire and also for a semantic rhetoric ceasefire,” he said. “Now we need a quiet situation, we need just a little bit positive silence.”
Kenya’s National Commission on Human Rights cast doubt on the vote, listing a catalogue of irregularities on Friday.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to lead efforts when he arrives tomorrow.

Meanwhile Kampala has warned Kenyan rioters against attacking Ugandans residing in Kenya on allegations that President Yoweri Museveni’s government has had an immense role in the presidential poll that gave Kibaki a second term of office.

Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa appealed that the rioters refrain from also attacking trucks ferrying goods to Uganda and the neighboring landlocked countries including Rwanda and Burundi.

“Government of Uganda wishes to appeal to the government and people of Kenya to ensure cessation of attacks on Ugandans and Ugandan transit goods through Kenya,” Kutesa told a news conference in Kampala on Saturday.

Kenyans have been attacking people and vehicles that are traveling to Uganda especially those carrying goods to Uganda from the coast. The Northern Corridor has been ineffective since the Kenyan violence started early this year.
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