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Analyst Says International Mediation Needed in Kenya


As the violence and political turmoil continue in Kenya, efforts continue to try to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. Many say the violence has highlighted ethnic and economic differences within the country.

Timothy Othieno is with the Institute for Global Dialogue in South Africa, and has recently returned from Kenya. From Midrand, South Africa, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

“At this point what needs to be done is to bring the two parties together. I’m talking about the government and the opposition group, the Orange Democratic Movement. These two groups need to sit together and iron out how they can resolve the current crisis; the current impasse that has seen close to a thousand people dead and people got injured.

Othieno says, however, pressure needs to be placed on both sides to work out a solution. “I’m not saying the Kenyans cannot resolve problems by themselves. No, what I’m saying is that both players, both parties…need to be brought together under the aegis of an international player. And in that sense would be able to mediate. And we’ve seen efforts, I think beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, or Wednesday, with the arrival of (former UN Secretary-General) Kofi Annan to see if they can make headway with regards to trying to reach a middle ground.”

Othieno also says while the ethnic and economic tensions are intertwined, he sees the turmoil more as political violence.

“For one thing, you have to understand the crisis has been misconstrued to be seen as a case whereby one ethnic group is in conflict with another ethnic group. And specifically I’m talking about the Luo and the Kikuyu. This is not the case as has been presented in a wide sector of the media…this is electoral violence. There have been tensions not only in areas where both the Luo and Kikuyu dominate. And I’m talking about Western Nyanza Province and in Central Province. If you look at the crisis and the wanton destruction and violence that have taken place, they’ve taken place in a number of areas and provinces.”