Kenya crisis puts African democracy at risk – UK
Posted 2nd January 2008
LONDON, Jan 2 (Reuters) – Britain called on Wednesday for an end to the tribal violence tearing Kenya apart after disputed elections and said a rapid and peaceful solution was vital for democracy in Africa.
The call came as the death toll rose to around 250 in clashes between rival supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“It is clear that there are major responsibilities on Kenya’s political leaders both in respect of the violence that is being perpetrated by some of their followers and in respect of the need to reach out and find common ground for a country … that is obviously deeply divided,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told BBC radio.
“We need all legal and political avenues to be explored … We don’t know who won. There are very serious allegations of irregularities on both sides,” he added.
Each leader also accuses the other’s supporters of carrying out ethnic cleansing amid scenes that have raised comparisons with the massive tribal bloodletting in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
Miliband, who on Wednesday also issued a joint statement with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling for restraint and intense political dialogue, also said events in Kenya could have repercussions in neighbouring nations.
“We know that there are real responsibilities on both sides in a situation like this to ensure that the political system is maintained,” he told the BBC.
“There are elections in other parts of Africa over the next 18 months, in Angola, in Ghana, in Malawi. Kenya is very, very important in and of itself and it is important for what it says about the rest of Africa and its approach to democracy.”
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by Keith Weir)
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