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Kenyans Demand End to Violence

Kenyans have unanimously demanded an end to escalating violence sparked by the December 27 disputed elections. A group comprising civil society and ordinary Kenyans from all ethnicities gathered in the capital Nairobi Wednesday to express their dissatisfaction with the ongoing violence, which is blamed for a loss of lives and property and is threatening the country’s stability. The demonstrators also demanded that opposition leader Raila Odinga and embattled President Mwai Kibaki find a solution to the elections dispute as they continue with negotiations mediated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

From Nairobi, political analyst Joseph Magoott tells reporter Peter Clottey that Kenyans are tired of the violence.

“I think Kenyans, both religious and secular, have been calling for peace, and also the stoppage of the senseless blood shedding that has been taking place across the country. And so there is an outcry that it is time that we essentially take the root of stability for peace to prevail,” Magoott said.

He said Kenyans are beginning to lose the optimism they once had.

“As we speak, our gross national happiness is at its lowest. Remember in the post-Moi administration (President Kibaki’s first term), Kenyans were said to be the most optimistic nation in the world because people thought they were going to get the opportunity to be the designers and architects of their future. But all the optimism, which they eventually become prisoners of is essentially going up in smoke, and they cannot believe that this is happening right before their eyes. The general call actually is that there is a need for this country to observe law and order so as to restore peace and normalcy,” he noted.

Magoott said Kenyans are hopeful about the prospect of the Kofi Annan-mediated talks between embattled President Kibaki and opposition leader Odinga.

“I think it is important to note that Kofi Annan does not freely come with a solution to the Kenyan problem. He is basically bringing that congenial environment that is going to enable the two parties to essentially have chemistry within which to discuss and come to an agreement. And so he is bringing with him what I will call residual good offices,” Magoott said.

He said there is no shortcut to ending the escalating violence blamed for the loss of lives and property.

“I think personally that you cannot really fix these things so fast. But you know there is need for this people to negotiate and deploy statesmanship to make sure that the whole mediation gets to succeed,” he said.

Magoott said the government has begun to take action to address the ongoing violence.

“Today, the minister of internal security came out categorically saying that it’s time the government take charge of the security situation in the country. At one point he was actually blaming the police that they have been rather lackluster in enforcing law and order. And so he is saying the government would spare no force in trying to enforce law and order in the country so as to guarantee the sanctity of life and the sanctity of property,” Magoott said.