Kenya’s main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says it is committed to finding a lasting solution to the escalating violence blamed for the loss of lives and property. This follows reports of gangs from rival ethnic groups clashing in Kenya's Rift Valley. Faced with clubs, bows and machetes, Kenyan police were no match for the throng and seemed underpowered to intervene. The ODM blames embattled President Mwai Kibaki’s recent rhetoric at the Africa Union summit in Addis Ababa for undermining peace talks between the government and the opposition.
The negotiations, spearheaded by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan are aimed at resolving the December 27 disputed presidential election, which is blamed for the escalating violence. From the capital, Nairobi, ODM secretary general Anyang Nyongo tells reporter Peter Clottey that his party abhors all forms of violence.
“We have always rejected violence. Not just the current one,” Nyongo said.
He condemned a recent statement by President Kibaki at the just ended Ethiopia summit as unfortunate and contemptible.
“Kibaki is not normal, Kibaki is mentally impaired. Kibaki is mentally impaired. That is why he says such nonsensical things,” he noted.
Nyongo said all seems to be set for the next round of peace talks.
“We have agreed on the rule of engagement. We have agreed that current issues, like the violence, like the militias, and who finances the militias. We want to dispose of these issues within one week and by Wednesday go to the real issues that brought Annan here, and that is to sort out the stolen vote. What happened? We want to know the truth. And we want to know why the person who stole the vote is in power. Those are the real issues that we want settled through the mediation talks,” Nyongo pointed out.
He said President Kibaki’s recent statement is undermining the Annan-led peace talks.
“He says things that even undermine the position of his own government. Once they had agreed and he appeared with Raila in public to endorse the mediation, he should be faithful to his public appearance. Not go somewhere and undermine the public appearance by words that have obviously undermined the process. He should watch his words and keep his brains above his shoulders,” Nyongo said.
Despite the drawbacks, Nyongo says the peace talks are generally proceeding according to the opposition’s expectations.
“The prospects are high on our side because we believe that the mediation has to succeed if there is going to be justice and peace in this country. And we expect the PNU (Party of National Unity) side to respond likewise. I don’t like calling the PNU side the government. We know that there is a government made of civil servants in this country. The usurpers of political power like Kibaki don’t have the legitimacy to speak on behalf of Kenyans,” Nyongo noted.