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Concerned Kenyans Call For Dialogue to End Violence


A group of concerned Kenyans are calling for dialogue between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The call for the talks between the two leading contenders in last Thursday’s elections aims to solve what has been described as escalating violence that is plunging the country into a political crisis. Supporters of Raila Odinga are reportedly dissatisfied with the outcome of the elections, which they claim was rigged in favor of President Kibaki.

Meanwhile Odinga is calling for a mass rally in Nairobi's main park this week to protest the outcome of the elections. Paul Mbatia is a Kenyan political science professor at the University of Nairobi. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, that some Kenyans are still protesting the results of last Thursday’ elections.

“The latest development is that there is chaos in the country. Some people are protesting the results that were announced. Specifically the ODM supporters are dissatisfied with the results. They hold very strongly that the elections were rigged in favor of President Kibaki. The ODM leaders are also protesting, and this is what has caused the chaos because ODM and supporters are protesting the election results,” Mbatia noted.

He said there are a number of options that if employed could possibly help solve the ongoing violence.

“It is very unfortunate because as we talk, people are still fighting, houses are being burned in some areas. I see three possible solutions. One is dialogue. We are all calling for dialogue especially between the ODM leader Honorable Raila Odinga and President Kibaki. One possibility of their dialogue is that they could talk and agree to share power. When you look at the election results and even as they campaigned, the competition was too tight. Even if the results were accurate, the ones that were announced by the ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) showed it was a competition that was too close. The modalities of the dialogue could be worked out. That is the first option that I see,” he said.

Mbatia said the losing presidential candidate of the Orange Democratic Movement is challenging the credibility of the tabulation of last Thursday’s results by the electoral commission.

“The second option that has been mentioned by ODM is the recount of the vote. Now, the recount of the vote would take quite a number of days, but then people talk about tallying the results, meaning that there are allegations that additions were not done accurately. And therefore some people feel that we could revisit the tallying of the votes. Well that is another way, but the question to ask is even if there is a recount and one of them won, maybe Raila won Kibaki could also start contesting on other grounds,” Mbatia pointed out.

He said Odinga’s call for a mass protest rally could possibly worsen the current situation.

“To be honest, you see Raila is doing his best to fight for his right. But I think he has all the right to do that. Kibaki has been sworn in as the president and of course, Raila feels that he has been put on the defensive. So I think by calling for this meeting or public rally, he is in a way showing that he is still popular. He still has support, he needs to be listened to, and his grievances need to be addressed. I think that is the point that he is making. If nothing would have been done to stop that, you can be sure that more chaos will continue because if you call for a political rally this time around where the tensions among Kenyans are that high, then you can be sure that there would be more fighting and burning of houses,” he said.

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