U.N. council deplores Kenya violence, backs Annan – 31 Jan 08

U.N. council deplores Kenya violence, backs Annan

Thu 31 Jan 2008, 0:43 GMT
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council  on Wednesday deplored the post-election violence in Kenya and expressed support for former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s efforts to mediate between the country’s president and his main opposition rival.

A month of political and ethnic violence has killed 850 people in Kenya since President Mwai Kibaki was returned to power in a Dec. 27 election that brought widespread charges of vote rigging and set off a wave of instability and protest.

“Council members deplored the continuing violence following the disputed elections in Kenya,” the council’s president, Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi of Libya, said in a statement.

Security Council members “underlined their full support for the efforts of the panel of eminent African personalities, led by Kofi Annan, in seeking to resolve the crisis in Kenya,” he said.

The leaders of Britain, France, Germany and the European Union all threw their weight behind Annan’s mediation effort at a meeting in London on Tuesday.

Kenya’s mission to the United Nations sent a letter to Ettalhi saying Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula would like to brief the Security Council, but the Libyan ambassador said a date for the briefing had not been set.

The top U.S. diplomat for Africa urged Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose rival supporters and tribes have been attacking each other for weeks, to forge a compromise, saying the ethnic retaliation had “gone too far.”

“There has been an organized effort to push out people from Rift Valley … it is clearly ethnic cleansing,” U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said in Ethiopia.

The U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, Lynn Pascoe, told reporters he did not want to use labels to describe the violence, but added: “I think it’s clear that some of the things have been on an ethnic basis.”

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador John Sawers said the fact that the Security Council has taken up the issue at all shows how serious the situation has become and that it could become more deeply involved if the violence worsens.

“At the moment we hope that urgings and the extensive common concern around the world will bring Kenya’s political leaders into the political process and the mediation efforts that Kofi Annan is leading,” Sawers said.



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