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Kenya Opposition Frowns On Kibaki’s AU Summit Presence

Kenya’s main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has described embattled President Mwai Kibaki’s attendance at the Africa Union (AU) heads of state conference in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa as a sham and provocation. The ODM says Kibaki’s trip significantly undermines the AU backed talks being mediated by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. The talks are aimed at resolving the ongoing post-election violence, which is blamed for the loss of lives and property.

The government, however, maintains that President Kibaki needs to attend the AU conference, since he is the legitimate president. William Ruto is the leading member of the ODM team negotiating with the government to end the violence. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Kibaki’s action is unacceptable.

“Kibaki should have been shamed enough not to go and impose himself in the international community because the Africa Union, the meeting which he has gone to attend, is sponsoring negotiations and mediation efforts over the mess, which Kibaki himself created our country. He should have been here on the negotiating table to try and clean the mess he has made of our country. And I do not think it serves any purpose for Mr. Kibaki to have gone to Addis Ababa when his own house is on fire, courtesy of his own actions,” Ruto noted.

Ruto concurs that Kibaki’s trip to the AU summit undermines the Kofi Annan-led mediation talks in Nairobi.

“In his (President Kibaki) calculation, he is trying to use every opportunity to give the impression that he is the president of Kenya. He knows too well that that is not the case. That is why he has accepted to submit himself to this process. He tried to dodge it several times. This is a major problem. It’s not going to go away, and the international community is firm that the election dispute in Kenya must be resolved in a way that reflects the majority of the people of Kenya. And whatever he was trying to do, I don’t think it’s going to wash. He has to come home to the reality that his presidency is in contest and as a result the country is engulfed in violence and it is his duty like every other Kenyan to try and get the country out of this anarchy,” he said.

Ruto said the United States government has sent the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigators to help ascertain the death of the opposition members of parliament.

“The situation is really unfortunate. It is a very sad day in our country yet again today, because we lost one Member of Parliament, Melitus Were, 36 hours ago. And today, we lost another Member of Parliament a David Too, again at the hands of the police… it cannot be such a coincidence that two members of parliament from one political party of ODM have died in 36 hours. And in both cases, the police are trying to assign motive before any investigations are done. Today the commissioner of police tried or attempted to assign that this was a crime of passion on the part of Honorable Too, which again begs the question, where does the commissioner of police find out without any investigation being done?” Ruto asked.

Meanwhile, the Africa Union Thursday called for urgent action to end the ongoing Kenya violence, sparked by the disputed December 27 election. Some diplomats have reportedly said the talks led by Annan are seen as the only way out, and the international community was trying to press Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to negotiate.