The African Union has accepted Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki as his country's sole representative at this week's A.U. summit. VOA's Peter Heinlein at summit headquarters in Addis Ababa reports African leaders rejected a request by Kenya's opposition for equal treatment.
Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula Monday confirmed that President Kibaki would attend the gathering of African heads of state and government beginning Thursday in the Ethiopian capital. At least 40 African leaders are expected to be on hand, along with several other dignitaries, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Kenyan foreign minister told reporters A.U. officials would recognize only the Kibaki delegation, effectively rejecting a request from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement that he be denied recognition on the grounds that his election is in dispute.
"The African Union has no basis for not recognizing the government of President Kibaki. As you can see, I'm here as the foreign minister of Kenya, representing the government of President Kibaki, and the people of Kenya," he said.
Wetangula said African Union Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare had refused to meet ODM leaders.
"I had a meeting today with the chairman of the Commission, Konare, saying they had requested an audience and he had told them no. The Union cannot accept agitating oppositionists to come here and foul the environment," he said.
Orange Democratic Movement Secretary-General Peter Anyang Nyong'o confirmed that he had been denied an audience with Konare. He said he had wanted to argue that by accepting Mr. Kibaki but denying the opposition ODM the same privilege, the African Union is taking sides in Kenya's election dispute.
"We told them because there is mediation going on, the very subject of mediation, about the legitimacy of Kibaki's administration and therefore Kibaki should not be allowed to address the summit if the ODM is not allowed to address the summit. But you know the A.U., in spite of its many principles, is like peace of God, it passeth all understanding," he said.
Anyang Nyongo'o said opposition leader Raila Odinga would not attempt to attend the summit unless he received a formal invitation.
Kenya's political turmoil has been the central topic at pre-summit meetings, overshadowing talks on conflicts in Darfur and Somalia, as well as the theme of the meeting, which is to be 'industrialization in Africa'. Foreign Minister Wetangula is scheduled to brief a gathering of African foreign ministers Tuesday on the latest developments.
More than 800 people have died in violence that erupted following the presidential elections that many observers say were flawed.
The most recent surge of violence prompted African Union Commission Chairperson Konare to warn this week of the possibility of genocide. Foreign Minister Wetangula Monday told reporters he does not believe any genocide has been committed, but admitted that some incidents clearly amount to ethnic cleansing, including the incident in the town of Naivasha Sunday in which 19 people were locked in a house and burned to death.