KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has for the first time publicly commented on the Kenya post-election violence, which has affected much of the East African region since December 31, 2007. In an interview last night, the President said that not all is lost; the situation in Kenya can still be saved.
Kagame said that he believes a stable institution in Kenya can still save the country from continued violence. He, however, said that he does not believe in use of military force in ending the violence. But if the situation worsened, he said, that stable institution may step in for the sake of saving lives.
Otherwise, the President stressed that dialogue remains the best option.
The Full Interview will be published in our issue tomorrow.
Meanwhile, former UN chief Kofi Annan yesterday opened talks with Kenya’s rival president and opposition leader, to try to end weeks of violence linked to disputed polls.
Annan, flanked by President Mwai Kibaki and ODM party leader Raila Odinga, urged the two men to do “whatever possible” to restore calm.
He said short-term political issues could be solved in four weeks, but full talks could take a year. The talks came as the death of an opposition MP sparked fresh violence yesterday.
At least seven people were killed yesterday in the capital, Nairobi, after Mugabe Were, from Odinga’s ODM party, apparently died in the city in violence triggered by last month’s disputed elections. At least one person died in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha. Army helicopters fired tear gas and what they said were rubber bullets at a mob of ethnic Kikuyus attacking Luo refugees trying to flee the town. Members of President Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe have been fighting with Luos and Kalenjins, who backed Odinga in December’s poll.
Opening the talks, Annan said: “There is only one Kenya. We all have multiple identities but I hope you see yourselves as Kenyans first.”
He warned that the crisis was having a “profound and negative impact” on the country and urged the two leaders to take the talks seriously or risk losing aid.
The talks began 90 minutes late, after an argument over seating arrangements.
Speaking after Annan, Odinga stressed that the resolution of the “deeply flawed” results of the presidential elections needed “most urgent attention”.
Odinga has launched street protests against Kibaki’s victory in the polls. “I seek to be president of all Kenyans. Their deaths and suffering horrifies me,” he said.
“I will leave no stone unturned, nor fail to travel that extra mile to ensure that His Excellency Kofi Annan’s mediation mission between the PNU [Kibaki’s Party of National Unity] and the ODM succeeds. And I emphasise PNU and ODM - not PNU ‘government’.” President Kibaki said he strongly condemned incidents of violence, and would “implement stern measures” against “those who disrupt the peace”.
Additional reporting from the BBC